Movie Title: Hard Eight
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 min.
Who did I watch with?: Stephie
Where did I watch it?: Home
Hard Eight was Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing debut and it is pretty damn good one featuring top flight talent. Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) is a professional gambler with a background in organized crime. On his way to Las Vegas he picks up a drifter named John (John C. Reilly) who is down on his luck. He needed money to pay for a funeral for his mother, so he went to Vegas and gambled all of his money away. Sydney offers to take him under his wings and show him the ropes. Sydney treats John like a son, but he is hiding a rather significant secret about his past.
Meanwhile John falls head over heels for a cocktail waitress named Clementine. Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow) turns tricks on the side to make ends meet. Sydney takes Clementine under his wings as well, but refuses to be quite so charitable with John’s friend Jimmy. Sydney doesn’t like Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson) because of his crass behavior and lewd treatment of women. John and Clementine are out on a date when things go terribly sideways and Sydney is called in to resolve the situation.
The movie acts as a snapshot over a short period of time in Las Vegas and many questions are left unresolved. It is very well shot and Philip Seymour Hoffman has a small cameo role as a gambler at the Casino. Philip Baker Hall has one of the all-time great voices of the movie industry and the ending leaves you to wonder what will happen at the end. The pace is moderate and more of a character drama than a gambling/gang related movie.
It is a great debut from Paul Thomas Anderson with great camerawork. See it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Carrie (1976)