Hard Eight (1996)


“Never ignore a man’s courtesy.” – Sydney

Number of Times Seen – 2 (4 May 2000 and 13 Mar 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A down on his luck gambler gets taken in by a professional gambler who teaches him how to work the system which helps form a bond between the two.

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw years ago, but didn’t remember anything about it besides the cast.

The story starts off quite well and allows us to see some great characters slowly being developed in front of our eyes.

Unfortunately, at the half way point, the story takes a 180 degree change and that forces the story into unknown territory which isn’t as intriguing to watch unfold.

The cats is great and features Philip Baker hall, John C. Reilly and Gwyneth Paltrow but none of them seem to be able to make us care about their characters no matter what they end up doing.

Paul Thomas Anderson knows how to write great dialogue and that is the best part of this film.

Listening to these characters converse with one another is great especially since we can always see that they all seem to choose their words very carefully since they are each aware that all is never what it seems to be.

This film starts off as an interesting drama and soon turns into a crime thriller that just isn’t impactful enough which is unfortunate because there seems to be much promise to things before the switch along the way.

Bottom Line – Film that starts off really well because it remains intriguing yet loses it’s direction at the half way mark. Great cast led by Hall, Reilly and Paltrow but they fail to get us to really care about their characters along the way.  PTA knows how to write great dialogue and the conversations between the characters is quiet enjoyable to listen to, and it’s always easy to see that they each still choose their words very carefully since they know that not all is always as it seems.  What starts off as a drama soon turns into a crime thriller which is much less interesting that one would hope for especially given this cast which is a bit of a shame.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Paul Thomas Anderson’s original title for this film was “Sydney”. Since it was his first film, and he had basically no control over it (much less final cut, like he’s had on his other features since), Rysher Entertainment re-cut the film and retitled it “Hard Eight”. This enraged Anderson, and through many talks and deals, he convinced the studio to let him release his cut, but with the new title “Hard Eight”. Anderson later said this experience taught him that doing your best to make the best possible movie was only “half the job” when being a director. The other half was dealing with all of the egos involved. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)

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One thought on “Hard Eight (1996)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1996 | MovieRob

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