Hard Eight
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Review by Blake Kunisch | posted January 27, 2000
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The Movie: Hard Eight is P.T. Anderson's first feature film and is in the same quality as his second and third, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Hard Eight (a.k.a. Sydney) is a spectacular film that starts slow, but slowly simmers to a boil. The movie starts out quite slow, getting things rolling and the second half of the movie is more an eventual finale to the first half than the ending of a movie. It all starts when Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) picks up John (John C. Reilly), down on his luck, outside a coffee shop outside Las Vegas. He offers him $50 and begins to talk to him. Eventually Sydney becomes a father figure in John's life and with the addition of Clemintine (Gwyneth Paltrow), the movie starts to come together. Brilliantly pieced together with spectacular camerawork, Hard Eight is a great start to P.T. Anderson's career.

The Picture: The picture is absolutely gorgeous. Most of the movie takes place inside and is therefore quite dark. This new director-approved transfer is very good with no visible errors and very crisp colors eminating from the casino insides.

The Sound: The sound plays a very subtle, yet important role in this film. The background music doesn't stand out, but is easy to recognize and has it's own part. The dialogue is the main part of the movie and it comes out perfectly. No complaints on the sound side of this disc.

The Extras: The extras are superb in this special edition of Hard Eight. With a deleted scene which really fits into the movie, but was cut for some reason and scenes from the Sundance Institute Filmmaker Lab (3 to be exact), along with not 1, but 2 commentaries. Both commentaries feature P.T. Anderson and one has Philip Baker Hall and the other with the rest of the cast and crew. Overall, great extras and truly deserving of this great film.

Conclusion: In conclusion, this disc is a definite 'must-have' for any collection. The movie is superb and the commentaries provide further insight into the movie and the start of P.T. Anderson's career. Philip Baker Hall's commentary with P.T. Anderson (commentary #1) is probably the best part of the disc (other than the movie of course) because it really gives great insight into the making of the movie, the script, and the casting. I really enjoyed this great movie and the extras are just icing on the cake. Pick this one up as soon as possible!



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