Hard Eight (1996)

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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, Philip Seymour Hoffman


A drifter is taken in by an old salt outside Vegas and tutored in how to make a modest living gambling. Two years later the reasons why emerge in the shape of a blackmailer.

The Review

Anderson's first feature has all the assurance of Mamet's debut, House of Games, in its portrait of a certain milieu, a certain criminal type, shorn of frills whether squalid or romantic. Characterisation matters more than the story, which is pretty banal even in its twist, and the suspense is generated from there. A superbly acted and directed film, which gets under the skin more than the Pulp Fictions of this world.