Hard Eight always commands your attention, even in its most tedious moments. PTA isn't aiming for any grand statement, but I appreciate the understated performances. This film in many ways reminds me of Melville's 1956 classic Bob le flambeur. Although Hard Eight lacks the confidence seen in the rest of the director's oeuvre, this is an impressive debut considering PTA was only 26 years old when the film premiered.
Two years in the life of Sydney, John and Clementine. We don't know where they come from and, at the end of the movie, we won't know what they'll become. In-between, we attend the creation of a family by Sydney allmighty. Life is not to lose or to win, a precept that Samuel -Jimmy-Jackson forgot. Great Philip Seymour Hoffman peformance in a minor role. Highly recommended.
PTA's dramatic paintbrush finds its niche with Hard Eight. Whilst it's no Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, The Master, Boogie Nights or Inherent Vice, the flickering flame of a genius was sensitively kindled here. His trademark flourishes seem to build momentum in a very solid debut for a 26 year old bright spark.
After all, Hard Eight comes short in terms of storytelling and narrative ends. However, the question is: how Paul Thomas Anderson can still attach us on a film like this? Perhaps with his mastering technique in filmmaking. Perhaps with his self-restraining approach in expectations.
I love PT ANDERSON! I fell in love with Gwyneth Paltrow! I'm glad John C. Reilly played this funny/loving character. Samuel L. Jackson is fucking ridiculously good. This movie is serious. Seriously delicious!
Loses some of its power as the plot becomes more explicit in the second half but along the way there are so many riches here, not least PTA's extended takes, the tracking shots and a sound world which punctuates extended periods of quiet with shattering violence, itself a comment on the main character Sydney (a brilliantly centred performance by Hall). Reilly is also excellent.
What a debut movie! Putting the noir firmly back into the genre. Phlegmatic Philip Baker Hall compelling as the 'dark angel' - a father figure full of menace and melancholy. Less keen on John C. Reilly as the hapless adoptive son. Highlight - another great cameo appearance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.