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Hard Eight

1h 42m Crime, Drama 1996

Over the course of his career, the magisterial Paul Thomas Anderson has created some of contemporary American cinema’s most indelible imagery and elicited staggering performances from Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood, 2007; Phantom Thread, 2017) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, 2012; Inherent Vice, 2014), and career-best work from Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love, 2002). Anderson made his breakthrough with Boogie Nights (1997), and cemented his status with Magnolia (1999), films that showcased his ability to fashion sprawling mosaics with multiple storylines and huge casts of characters. Hard Eight, suffused with the feel of 1970s American films, was his more straightforward debut. Establishing the beginnings of Anderson’s repertory cast, Philip Baker Hall plays Sydney, a professional gambler who takes the down-on-his-luck John (John C. Reilly) under his wing. The two men’s relationship is complicated by John’s romance with part-time waitress, part-time prostitute Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow).

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