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 "Brokeback   Mountain"

 "Get Rich or Die   Tryin' "

 "Elizabethtown"

 "Me and You And   Everyone We Know"

 "Thumbsucker"

 "The Matador"


 Oscar Eye Candy







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The Matador

The Jam. Tom Jones. Asia. The Cramps.

Pierce Brosnan. Greg Kinnear. Hope Davis. Bullfights.

A conniving, horny, middle-aged assassin in the midst of a nervous breakdown.

One of these things is not like the other. Or, rather, none of these things is remotely like the others, and the fact that writer/director Richard Shepard locks them all neatly together in one tight, 90-minute film is only one of the mysteries surrounding this unexpectedly charming flick. (Another mystery: Why did the ads make the film look like nothing more than a goofy, manic buddy movie when, in fact, it's a smart, funny, moving, goofy, manic buddy movie? Quite a difference.)

"Matador" Trailer

Check out all we've got on "Matador"

But as engaging as the movie is, without its soundtrack "The Matador" might well come across as just self-consciously quirky, rather than the work of a genuine, singular talent. Who would think to lay down the Jam's post-punk classic "A Town Called Malice" over the stylized, color-saturated opening credits — with their near-painterly images of matadors and bulls in full battle — and execute the maneuver so that the juxtaposition feels, somehow, perfectly natural?

Where does Shepard get the gumption to set a tense, climactic assassination scene to the synth-tastic strains of Asia's "In the Heat of the Moment" — and make it work?

The seemingly contradictory vibe of the songs here — from the Cramps' exhilarating, sordid "Garbageman" to Ramon Stagnaro's lovely "Bahia Blanca" to Tom Jones' sex-sure-is-fun "It's Not Unusual" — gradually coheres into something approaching a life philosophy, an outlook that suggests that when things appear to be at their most insane and confused, a small shift in perspective can snatch victory (or, at least, solace) from the jaws of despair. Olé! — Ben Cosgrove

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Photos: Miramax/Focus Features/Paramount/Sony Classics/IFC/Samuel Goldwyn


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