DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
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THE MATADOR (directors: Stephen Higgins/Nina Gilden Seavey; cinematographer: Christopher Jenkins/James Morton-Haworth; editor: Ian Rummer; music: John Califra; cast: David Fandila; Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Stephen Higgins/Nina Gilden Seavey; City Lights Pictures; 2008-Spain-in Spanish with English subtitles)

 
"A no-frills documentary for those who romanticize bullfighting as both a sport and an art."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A no-frills documentary for those who romanticize bullfighting as both a sport and an art, with time out for the opponents to give voice to their opposition. I had no problems with the filming or its bland Hollywood-like handsome subject, but I'm one of those not interested in such a brutal exercise and this film did nothing to convince me otherwise. Co-directors Stephen Higgins and Nina Gilden Seavey followed Granada native bullfighter David Fandila on his three-year journey, starting in 2003 when the matador was a mere 21, through Spain and Latin America, as by the journey's end the ambitious bullfighter gets acclaimed the world's top-ranked bullfighter despite being badly gored in the stomach and operated on during the recess after slaughtering six bulls. The young matador's climb to the top has him fighting 100 matches a year, a feat only the few great ones attempt.

David, whose fans call him El Fandi, seems like a clean-cut nice young man with a hottie girlfriend he hardly sees because of his travel, and a supportive family that includes a proud former matador father, a doting mom and an older brother Juan Alvaro who quit being a professional skier to act as his bro's protector and assistant. David's ritualized macho death-defying heroics in the ring, confronting the over a thousand pound bulls to show the public he has the guts and skill to do what few of them can do, only left me abstractly thinking why did bullfight lover Hemingway kill himself?

REVIEWED ON 2/23/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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