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Hard Eight (Special Edition)

4.3 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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(Jun 26, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sydney (Philip Baker Hall - Midnight Run ) is a poker-faced professional gambler with a soft heart for a hard luck story. He plays guardian angel to unlucky John (John C. Reilly - Days of Thunder) and a hooker, Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow - Seven), whom he grows to love like family. When John's andClementine's honeymoon night leads to a disastrous hostage situation, Sydney takes care of it, as usual. But when slick casino pro Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction) threatens to reveal a secret from Sydney's past that could destroy his relationship with the newlyweds, Sydney decides to hedgehis bets and not leave anything to chance.

Before hitting the big time with his second film Boogie Nights, young filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson impressed critics with this deftly conceived, low-budget film noir chamber piece. With its minimalist plot, deliberate pacing, and brief, but shocking bursts of violence, Hard Eight won't please everyone, but Anderson and his first-rate cast were clearly working on the same authentic wavelength. It's a mystery at first why a solemn professional gambler (Philip Baker Hall in a captivating performance) cares for a down-and-out loser (John C. Reilly) and a dimwit, Reno cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow). But his motivations become clear--and the movie packs a quietly effective punch--when the gambler faces blackmail by a small-time crook (Samuel L. Jackson). This unheralded film seemed like a closely kept secret itself, until it showed up on the 1997 top-10 lists of several prominent critics. In tandem with Boogie Nights, it marked the arrival of a new filmmaker whose talent is as impressive as that of that other '90s hotshot, Quentin Tarantino. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Deleted Scene: "The Kiss"
  • Three Sundance Institute Filmmaker Lab scenes: "The Coffee Shop," "Jimmy Threatens Sydney" & "The Phone Call"

Product Details

  • Actors: Samuel Jackson, John Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Philip Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Producers: John Lyons, Robert Jones
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2003
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000K3D3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hard Eight (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Paul Thomas Anderson is, by his own admission, a big fan of dvd/laserdisc commentary tracks, where, if you are lucky, you'll hear the director, actors, writers and/or the cinematographer of the movie you are watching talk about how it was 'all done'.
Hard Eight, or "Sydney" as it is better known to the people that made it, is a superb example of what a DVD presentation has to offer. There is the marvellous widescreen transfer - the movie LOOKS great, then there are TWO commentary tracks, the first by P.T.A. and star, Philip Baker Hall on 'Audio 2', and the other track is a great combination (the first I've seen like this) where the director interviews cast and crew members himself (on the set during the production of Magnolia) - you get their thoughts and comments cleverly sandwiched in-between the movie's music cues - so you essentially get an isloated music track and second commentary on the 'Audio 3' track. The isolated music track is, in places, different to what actually appears in the film too.
On top of this there are deleted scenes from the movie and footage from a Sundance Institute Filmakers Lab, which show scenes that were shot as an experiment/example of what the real film could/would be.
PT Anderson's commentary tracks are very enthusiastic, honest and extremely informative. If you have any interest in filmaking this is a really good one!
Oh, and it's a good film too.
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Format: DVD
Talk about a more-than-impressive debut from a very important director, P.T. Anderson's "Hard Eight" hits all of the right notes at all of the right times. It's a film that's built around characters and dialogue rather than plot. It's a film that takes you for an unpredictable ride into the unknown and delivers a good time. Debuts come and go, but rarely do they come in top-form like this. A film noir filled with drama, humor and heart, "Hard Eight" is a very satisfying film that is enjoyable to watch.
Sidney is an old timer who used to be a successful gambler. He stumbles upon a not-so-lucky John, who is pretty much broke. Sidney unexpectedly takes him under his wing and helps him get back on his feet. The two become very close friends as time goes by and as John's winning streak improves more and more. However, John's going to need serious help from Sidney later on, and it's something that's a lot more serious than money troubles in this very involving film noir that is both thoughtful and dark.
As with the other P.T. Anderson films, I had no idea what to expect from this movie. And that's what's so great about him. No film is ever the same, and each film has a look and feel of its own. In no way could P.T. Anderson ever be a one-trick director. It is apparent that he has MANY tricks up his sleeves, and has only begun to reveal them to us.
The film certainly stands out from other debuts. It's got a strong cast, a smart screenplay, and a certain direction it wants to take. The film is complex, but not because of the plot. It is complex because the characters themselves are complex. That is what's so unique about the film. You want to take the time to get to know the characters.
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Format: DVD
Paul Thomas Anderson knew what he was doing. Back in the year-o-our-Lord 19-hundred-and-ninety-six, he made a small film called SYDNEY (It was the studios idea of calling the film Hard Eight). It featured a wonderful Phillip Baker Hall (who was again featured in Magnolia and Boogie Nights). As well as John C. Reilly (Magnolia and Boogie Nights again) as well as a wonderfully done Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson.
The script is just absolutely top-notch. This is not an action film. This is a character film, as is all of Paul Thomas Anderson's films. The cinematography (how the film looks) is amazing. Its not a cliche-ridden film as most movies are when centered around Reno or Vegas. You meet a man with an unknown past, find little facts about him along the way, and before its over, you're not sure whether it was better to know or be left in the dark.
The story is that Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall)helps a down-on-his-luck guy, John (John C. Reilly). He takes him under his wing. Wonderful writing, action, and suspense follows. I won't give away too much. I like to get the surprises as they come.
The performances are amazing, establishing Phillip Baker Hall (which P.T. Anderson wrote it for) as one of the best actors out there today. Samuel L. Jackson gives a surprisingly interesting performance, as well as Gwyneth.
It is not Boogie Nights. It is not Magnolia. It stands on its own as a dwelve into the mind of a man with a sordid past and the sweet-and-sour need for redemption, in any fashion you can get it. The extras are very interesting (only ONE deleted scene? Are you kidding me?), the most being the Sundance Lab test-shots. Its actors just acting, little scenery, no music. Its raw and beautiful, the way these actors go from the rough video to the big screen.
A definite must-see.
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Format: DVD
Few movies can make characters seem entirely real, or convey a mix of feelings as subtlely as this film can. "Hard Eight" is one of those few. With characters that seem like real people, a sinuously twisted plot, and plenty of suspense, rain-darkened skies and shady characters.
A former pro gambler, Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), stumbles across a young man named John (John C. Reilly) at a roadside restaurant; John is broke, embittered, homeless, and needs money for his mother's funeral -- money he doesn't have, and doesn't know how to get. Sydney makes him an offer: John will come to Vegas and Sydney will teach him how to gamble. Though John is suspicious at first, he soon comes to trust Sydney, who takes the young man under his wing and gets him a job.
Two years later, Sydney also takes the young waittress/hooker Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow) under his wing, giving her a place to stay, and letting her and John go out to have fun. But their day out takes a horrific turn when Clementine falls back into her old ways and sleeps with a jerk. When he won't pay, John takes him hostage, and turns to Sydney for help. After learning that John and Clementine got married, Sydney does bail his young friends out of their predicament. But then he comes face-to-face with Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson), who knows -- and may reveal -- the shadowy secrets in Sydney's past.
"Hard Eight" fulfills the specifications of film noir like few modern films do. The overcast sky and constant rain hint at the dark threads running through the film. Adding to the feeling are the complex and secretive characters, the glimpses into the darker sides of human nature, and the fact that very little is what it seems.
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