Viva Pedro Part Seven
"Matador" is not to be confused with the delightful human comedy of the same name from 2005, but instead a dark, disturbing, and creepy Almodovar film from 1986. Those who expect Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear sharing witty banter and cute one liners will be sorely disappointed. "Matador" is the oldest film that you will be at the "Viva Pedro" film festival, a retrospective of eight classic Almodovar film, and as one of his first efforts it is one of his strangest and best. He does not return to his classic themes of women in crisis, but instead tells a film noir tale about murder simply for the sake of murder. From the very first opening credit sequence of a man pleasuring himself in front of some of the bloodiest scenes from a movie I have ever seen, you know that you are in for a twisted ride.
"Matador" tells the story of Diego, a former matador who was hurt in a goring accident years ago. Since he cannot practice the art anymore, he decides to spread his knowledge about the art in a matador training school. The problem with Diego is that ever since his goring he has been obsessed with killing. One of his most interesting students is Angel, who wants to prove his manhood to his teacher who has doubts. Angel ends up raping Diego's model girlfriend, Eva. Persuaded by his strongly religious mother, Angel decides to go to church to confess to the crime, but instead walks straight to the police station where he not only confesses to the rape, but also tells them that he is the man they are looking for related to a string of murders around the city. Angel gets a lawyer, Maria, who it turns out really has a hidden agenda. She only wants to help Angel as a way to get close to Diego, a man who she has admired for a long time from afar. The two become closer, and it turns out that Maria is obsessed with him instead of just having a crush. Even when she is being physical with a man, when she is done she imiates the bullfighter, but sticking her hairpin into the back of the man she is with. The three interact with one another and end up changing each other.
"Matador" does not depict any bullfighting, unless you count the video clip of Diego getting attacked by the bull. Instead, there are three bullfighters, and everyone else are the bulls. This is a story about obsession. Obsession with proving oneself, obsession with death, and obsession with trying to have the perfect life. And for the most part, it is an intriquing, quickly paced, and wonderfully dark Almodovar film, and an unusual one at that. Watching these films is interesting seeing how he changed over the years. My only quip with the festival is that they show the films in a random order. If they showed them in a chronlogical order, I think I might be able to mark trends in his career. Going from the mid 80's, to the late 90's, to 2001, and then back to the mid 90's again is a little confusing. The middle is slightly slow, but the final climax(and no pun intended) is haunting and brilliant, and it is a shame to see the film end.