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Thursday, April 1, 2010

MATADOR (1986)

This is probably the most poised of the films Pedro Almodovar made before his commercial breakthru with WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN/’88. It’s a slightly deranged psychological meller about a young bullfighter-in-training who faints at the sight of blood. Women prove just as difficult and an attempted rape (with a Swiss-Army knife as a weapon) leads to a series of confessions to rape & murder. The crimes are actually the work of his maimed mentor & his female attorney and when these two get together, after sizing each other up during a showing of that over-heated Western, DUEL IN THE SUN/’46, you know there’s a liebestod in their future. Almodovar’s technique isn’t quite equal to his often hilariously politically incorrect script, but the talent is already all in place. The pacing & story structure are wickedly entertaining and the cast (with young Antonio Banderas wonderfully empathetic as the virginal would-be rapist) is pitch-perfect. And that includes Pedro himself as a fashionista Isaac Mizrahi might used as a personal template.

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