HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
   
 
Newest Articles
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
   
 
  Hard Eight Compensation
Year: 1996
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, F. William Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nathanael Cooper, Wynn White, Robert Ridgely, Kathleen Campbell, Michael J. Rowe, Peter D'Allesandro, Steve Blane, Xaleese, Melora Walters
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: John (John C. Reilly) has just lost all his money at the gambling tables, so is sitting slumped outside a diner pondering his next move when a stranger approaches him and offers to buy him a cup of coffee. He is wary of this man, who introduces himself as Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), but after some coaxing he agrees and soon they are inside, discussing things over that coffee and a cigarette. Sydney has a proposition: he will give John fifty dollars to gamble in Reno as long as he does whatever this benefactor says...

There was a curious stillness at the heart of Paul Thomas Anderson's feature debut, and that was thanks to the remarkable performance from the star whose talents he brought to the mass audience's attention. Hall was one of those recognisable faces from the previous couple of decades who had never broken through to true stardom, as a career as a character actor most likely to provoke a familiar, "Hey, it's that guy!" by those who couldn't recall his name seemed to be Hall's lot in life. But for the few who caught Hard Eight, they took his talent into account at last.

Of course, there were only a few who did see this, as Anderson found he was struggling with the company which produced, and claimed never to be fully satisfied with the results, not least because they failed to release it properly no matter its obvious qualities. Hall was rewarded later with a plum role in Anderson's Boogie Nights, the film which really put Anderson on the map, not to mention that his co-star Reilly found his profile significantly raised through that as well, one of many character stars who benefitted from such a connection to a well-received effort.

Later on in Hard Eight, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson appeared, showing the writer-director's flair for picking the right actor. But just like its lead enigma, the story kept its cards close to its chest, so that we question why Sydney would be interested in doing right by this loser, taking him under his wing and supplying him with a means to survive by gambling in Reno. But he cannot protect him completely, as other factors, John's poor choices for one, put him in peril and threaten to crack Sydney's watchful fa├žade when John hooks up with waitress Clementine (Paltrow) and they hit a major snag.

Much of this could have been a sleeper B-movie from the fifties in its plotting and emphasis on character over story, but Anderson allowed a modern sensibility to inform it in dialogue and violence - not much of that, but what there is had an impact thanks to it occuring in such deceptively claustrophobic circumstances. The feeling that any of these characters could let someone down, from themselves to the people they cared about, was strong, and as we discover Sydney's reasoning is a lot to do with that, though we are never actually privy to all the background, leaving much to be filled in on our own. Whatever he did, it must have been major, and there may even be something more to this father figure relationship than the film ever revealed, but what was so rewarding about Hard Eight was its careful construction of personality, so that while it was a minor work in comparison with what was to come, it was by no means negligible. Music by Jon Brion and Michael Penn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2543 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: