Saturday, June 1, 2013

Movie of the Month - Hard Eight

When some directors make their first film, it is pretty evident that their careers can only go up, even if their first film is simply fantastic. It has worked for Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Sophia Coppola, Spike Lee, and James Cameron, the list goes on. Director Paul Thomas Anderson can also be added to that list thanks to his 1996 debut film, Hard Eight, also known as Sydney. The film which stars a superstar cast of Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, is about a con man named Sydney (Hall), who takes a young man (Reilly) under his wing to show him how to rip off casinos without making an Oceans 11-esque robbery. As Reilly's character evolves into a full blown con man, the film becomes a game of who is playing who. It is a mix of dark comedy, noir, and gangster films rolled into one. With smart and savvy writing, coupled with great directing and cinematography, it is no wonder Anderson has achieved great success as a filmmaker and story teller.