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Rated R

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Edmond

Based on a play by macho bard David Mamet, Edmond is the story of a middle-aged, white collar man (William H. Macy) whose encounter with a fortune teller sends him on a journey through the sleazy streets of New York City. His clashes with hustlers, hookers and other hooligans mirror the social problems that still plague us today: violence and resentment due to race, class and gender issues. Is this a dark spiritual odyssey into the psyche of the privileged white American male or a missed opportunity to express something truly profound? Whether you love it or hate it, you will never forget this movie.


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16. Jade Healy
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Admittedly, Edmond is not the movie for a feel good Saturday evening on the couch. It’s a tough, provocative film that depicts sex and violence in surreal, sometimes disturbing ways.

Everyone who sees this movie has a strong opinion about it.

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Yet the one point everyone agrees on is the outstanding cast. In addition to Macy’s standout performance in the title role, the film showcases performances from Julia Stiles, Bai Ling, Mena Suvari, Bokeem Woodbine, Denise Richards and George Wendt. Devotees of David Mamet will appreciate appearances by regulars like Joe Mantegna and Rebecca Pidgeon, while horror fans can geek out at the cameo role from Jeffrey Combs.


Admittedly, this is not the movie for a feel good Saturday evening on the couch. It’s a tough, provocative film that depicts sex and violence in surreal, sometimes disturbing ways. Directed by cult horror filmmaker Stuart Gordon, Edmond reflects the nightmarish quality of his 80’s genre classic Re-Animator, though weirdly it lacks the humor that balances out the more disturbing content. There’s also a wide range in the quality of performances. William H. Macy offers a master class in how to depict impotent masculine rage, Julia Stiles tries hard to play against type, and Denise Richards just tries really hard. Horror geeks will be pleased to see Gordon regular Jeffrey Coombs in a minor role. The film’s examination of the dissatisfied white collar yuppie puts it in good thematic company with other movies like After Hours and American Psycho. Are the issues the film raises still relevant today, or is it, like some of Mamet’s work, too dated to matter?

While Stuart Gordon brings an interesting horror background to this movie, there’s another unmade version that would perhaps be more intriguing to film fans. Paul Thomas Anderson had originally circled this project, which makes sense considering he had cast Macy in both Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Given Anderson’s love of Scorsese, it’s not difficult to imagine how he might have drawn heavily on films like Taxi Driver or After Hours, while also retrofitting the story to a San Fernando Valley setting and smoothing out some of Mamet’s dialogue with his own poetic vulgarities (and perhaps a tad less misogyny). Interestingly, Gordon may have won the job through his long standing friendship with both Mamet and Macy from their days in the Chicago theater scene.

The philosophical dialogue about consciousness and dogs is based on a science fiction theory about the origins of dogs. The theory postulates that dogs migrated to earth from Sirius with human-like abilities of speech and movement. However, humans eventually enslaved them, causing them to walk on all fours and lose the power of speech. Obviously, there is no scientific evidence for this theory, though it does somewhat resemble theories about our treatment of other hominid species like Neanderthals. So what is the film trying to say by including this in the final scene? How do the ideas of human nature here relate to the film's story? Or is this simply Mamet puffing hot air into his tough guy style of writing?

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