The Matador appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not without concerns, the transfer seemed consistently satisfying.
Few issues came from sharpness. Some light edge enhancement occasionally made wide shots a little soft, but those instances didn’t occur frequently. The majority of the flick offered good clarity and delineation. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jagged edges, and very few source flaws appeared. I saw a couple of tiny specks and nothing else.
Matador went with a loud, almost garish palette at times, and the DVD replicated those colors well. It consistently made the hues vibrant and full. Blacks were rich and tight, while shadows seemed clear and appropriately visible. Only the minor softness and specks knocked this transfer below “A” territory.
I also thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Matador proved effective. Much of the time the soundfield remained fairly subdued. It usually went with general environmental information and also added good stereo imaging for the music. Occasionally it kicked into higher gear, though, and those scenes added punch. For instance, the storm segment early in the film used all five speakers well, and a few other louder pieces were successful. This wasn’t an incredibly active mix, but it spread out when necessary.
Audio quality was aces. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Music was tight and lively, and the score also showed good range. Effects presented accurate elements that were clear and concise. Bass response appeared deep and powerful at times. This was a strong mix.
As we move to the DVD’s extras, we open with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Richard Shepard via a running, screen-specific discussion. And a chatty one at that, as Shepard gives us a fine look at his film.
Shepard gets into the development of the project and how he involved Brosnan. We learn about other casting choices, shooting the whole thing in Mexico, editing and cut sequences, music and song choice, visual design, effects, and a mix of production choices. Shepard rarely takes a breath in this rapid-paced discussion. He provides a frank appraisal of the production and makes it all entertaining. Plenty of good tales appear as he relates concerns exhibited by the actors as well as interesting elements like the changes made to the script to drop Bond connections. This turns into a fine look at the flick.
For the second commentary, we hear from Shepard and actors Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. Expect to hear a lot of the same material found in Shepard’s solo track. The subjects remain virtually the same, though the actors manage to add their own perspectives to matters.
They do so less frequently than I’d like, however. Shepard takes on the lion’s share of the chat and provides many of the same notes. Kinnear and Brosnan chime in with decent regularity and throw out some nice stories, but I feel we don’t learn much in the way of new material. In addition, as the film progresses, we get more and more happy talk and less information. The commentary remains a light and fun affair that provides some laughs, but as a look at the film’s creation, it pales in comparison to Shepard’s excellent solo track.
A short featurette called Making The Matador comes next. This seven-minute and 20-second piece includes movie bits, shots from the set, and remarks from Brosnan, Kinnear, Shepard and actor Hope Davis. They tell us a little about the story and the production. Should you expect anything informative and broader than the usual glorified trailer? Nope. It throws out a few moderately interesting behind the scenes glimpses, but it acts just to sell the movie.
11 Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 16 minutes and 18 seconds. A couple of the more interesting ones show Julian and Danny in their separate lives on the way to Mexico. I especially like the airport scene in which Julian tries to bang an airport waitress.
The other sequences seem interesting though not quite as good. We see Danny attempt to convince Julian he’s not beyond redemption and other aspects of their interactions in Mexico. We also get longer takes on the order to kill Julian and some other minor extensions. These range from pretty good to fairly dull.
We can view these with or without commentary from Shepard. Chatty as always, he delivers many more good notes about the production and also makes sure we know why the scenes failed to make the final film. He adds to our understanding of the work.
Some audio programs appear next. The Business & the Treatment: Feature Radio Programs Discuss The Matador splits into two shows. “Sundance Rollercoaster” from NPR’s The Treatment comes first and depicts Shepard’s experiences at the festival as he tried to find a buyer for the film. This offers a good look at all the hoops through which indies have to jump to sell their films. I especially like the funny bit in which Shepard half-jokingly threatens to kill Harvey Weinstein if he edits the movie.
After that we find a chat between Shepard and critic Elvis Mitchell on KCRW’s The Treatment. This provides a general discussion of the film. There’s not much new if you’ve listened to the commentaries. It seems a little more introspective with info about themes and interpretation, but plenty of the same notes get regurgitated.
The main new element comes from Shepard’s reflections on his first movie, 1991’s The Linguine Incident. David Bowie starred in it, so as a Bowie fan, I knew of it although I never saw it. Shepard discusses the mistakes he made in its creations and how they affected his career. He also provides another threat at a producer; he better hope none of these guys dies under suspicious circumstances. Other than the Linguine elements, this is an average chat. It’s fine on its own but not very useful in conjunction with the other pieces.
The set includes the theatrical trailer for Matador as well as a TV Spot. In addition, a few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Transamerica, Hoodwinked, Mrs. Henderson Presents and The Libertine.
Largely due to solid acting from its leads, The Matador offers a quality piece of entertainment. It keeps us interested and involved through its offbeat story and manages to present real emotion as well. The DVD features very good picture and audio along with some informative and interesting supplements. This is a good movie and a quality DVD.