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    About This Item

    Unique ID Code: 0000011631
    Added by: DVD Reviewer
    Added on: 4/12/2000 08:48
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    Hard Eight (a.k.a Sydney) (UK)

    8 / 10
    1 vote cast
    Rate this item
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    When good luck is a long shot, you have to hedge your bets
    Certificate: 15
    Running Time: 98 mins
    Retail Price: £19.99
    Release Date:

    Sydney (Philip Baker Hall - Psycho) 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 - The Thin Red Line) and a hooker, Clementine (Gwyneth
    Paltrow – Shakespeare In Love), whom he grows to love like family. When John
    and Clementine’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 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) threatens to reveal a secret
    from Sydney’s past that could destroy his relationship with the newlyweds,
    Sydney decides to hedge his bets and not leave anything to chance.

    Special Features:
    Interactive Menus
    Scene Access
    2 Commentaries
    Isolated Soundtrack
    Alternate Bonus End Credits Song "I Should`ve Known" by Aimee Mann)
    Deleted Scene
    Three Sundance Institute Filmmaker Lab scenes: "The Coffee Shop," "Jimmy
    Threatens Sydney," and "The Phone Call"
    Two Theatrical Trailers
    Cast & Crew Bios

    Video Tracks:
    Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

    Audio Tracks:
    Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 English
    Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 Spanish
    Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 German
    Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 French

    Subtitle Tracks:

    Directed By:
    Paul Thomas Anderson

    Written By:

    Philip Seymour Hoffman
    F. William Parker
    Samuel L. Jackson
    Gwyneth Paltrow
    John C. Reilly
    Philip Baker Hall

    Casting By:
    Christine Sheaks

    Soundtrack By:
    Michael Penn
    Jon Brion

    Director of Photography:
    Robert Elswit

    Barbara Tulliver

    Costume Designer:
    Mark Bridges

    Production Designer:
    Nancy Deren

    Helene Mulholland
    John S. Lyons
    Daniel Lupi
    Robert Jones

    Executive Producer:
    Keith Samples
    François Duplat
    Hans Brockmann

    Columbia / Tristar

    Your Opinions and Comments

    8 / 10
    Hard Eight (or Sydney, as was the intended title) is the first film from Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights and Magnolia. While not as ambitious as either of these films, Hard Eight is a well-crafted tale of the relationship between aging gambler Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), and an unlucky young man named John (John C. Reilly), who Sydney takes under his wing.

    John needs to raise $6,000 in order to pay for his mother`s funeral, but has managed to lose every penny in Vegas. It is at a truck stop that he meets Sydney, who offers to show John a way to make the money he needs, and together they head off back to Vegas to begin the process.

    Two years on, John and Sydney find themselves in Reno, Nevada, where John meets and falls for waitress and part-time hooker Clementine (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). When their honeymoon turns into a desperate hostage situation Sydney has to step in to sort matters out.

    To make things worse, John`s friend, Jimmy (played with usual brilliance by Samuel L. Jackson), threatens to reveal a dark secret from Sydney’s past that could jeopardise his relationship with John.

    This European R2 disc is excellent. Presented in anamorphic 2.35:1, the video quality is great and the bright lights and colourful neon signs of Las Vegas and Reno look wonderful. Director Anderson employs some beautiful camera angles; check out the long Steadycam shot of Sydney walking through the casino at the start of chapter 10 for example.

    Sound is also good, with surround tracks in a variety of languages. The film, like most of Anderson`s work, is very dialogue intensive. The centre channel is very clear and the surrounds are used to create atmosphere when needed.

    This is a great disc for extras too. We are treated to three deleted scenes, three Sundance Institute Filmmaker`s scenes, two theatrical trailers, cast & crew bios and most interesting of all, two commentary tracks. The commentaries both feature Anderson who, as usual, gives a lot of insight into the creative process. The first commentary also features one of Anderson`s idols, Philip Baker Hall. The second commentary features Michelle Satter from Sundance Film, various crew, some isolated score and an alternative Aimee Mann track over the end credits.

    For fans of P T Anderson this disc is an essential purchase. Even if you`ve never seen Boogie Nights or Magnolia (why not!), Hard Eight is a charming film with some fine performances and it can be purchased for around £14 from some European retailers. It may not be as polished or convoluted as Anderson`s more recent films, but you will not be disappointed.
    posted by Chris Gould on 20/1/2001 23:55