Sucks you right in; shows PTA could do simple and straightforward just as well as his gnarly messy later epics. Philip Baker Hall is grand but I found myself most impressed by Gwyneth Paltrow. It might have been interesting to see someone else in the Sam Jackson role, only because while he is good, he is inevitably always Sam Jackson. PTA's Dad is in the movie line next to John C. Reilly's flaming pants.
The film that launched the career of one of todays great directors. Paul Thomas Anderson utilises a quite unique kind of humble minimalism to his filmmaking which lets this very talented cast produce some fine acting and memorable scenes. Also of special mention are the hilarious inclusion of some velcro shoes and Philip Seymour Hoffman's brief portrayal of an asshole showoff at the craps table. Check it out!
3.5/5 Few of cinema's great directors had the ideal directorial debut. Paul Thomas Anderson is ONE of the great filmmakers and "Hard Eight" is not a perfect debut but it doesn't need to be either. From here to "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia", the evolution of PTA is quite astonishing.
I enjoyed this more than some of PTA's bigger and more ambitious films. It allows us as viewers to enter a strange world in which the twisted morality of the craps tables and slot machines has impinged on the lives of the people who struggle to find love and meaning in a place where fates are decided on the spin of a wheel, the roll of a dice.
Old-school Sydney is cool & sharp. Big baby-boy John is a loser & naive. Waitress-hooker Clementine is a dreamer & stupid. Bad-man Jimmy is greedy & an asshole. The beginning is strong and so is the thrilling & abrupt end. In between there are hangovers. Some vague elements are irritating (Atlantic City, John's father, Jimmy's connection to it). Great cast; Philip Baker Hall outstanding. Above average. 3,5 stars.
it is a great effort for a first feature length project and a great central performance by Philip Baker Hall, there is a nice energy in the camera movement throughout, although the storytelling is slightly slapdash and it is a shame PTA wasn’t given more say in the final cut, I do feel needed more time to be perfected.
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.