TBTo the Screen

“Hard Eight” (1998)

“Good Luck”- Man at token booth at casino

In 1998, $6000 dollars must have been a lot of money. John (John C. Reilly) is a lonely gambler who needs the amount of money to bury his mother. Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall), who takes John under his wing, will later need the amount of money to save his life from Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson), a gambler and “gangster” who knows a secret about Sidney.

Many of the scenes are long and must have been done in one take. This is the best performance Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Clementine a cocktail waitress and prostitute, has ever delivered. As her melancholy mascara drips from her face due to her poor choices in life, she gave a raw dramatic performance. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in one scene and so electric. It was the one scene that began the film collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson, as this film was his screen debut as writer and director.

Everyone in this film gave performances. It was more than acting. For many of the actors, it was the beginning of their career but with writing this strong, you had to deliver and they did.