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Hard Eight AKA Sydney

Anderson’s first feature announced a powerful new voice in American cinema at a time when Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers were taking cinemas by storm with their film-history-inflected, sweeping creations. Anderson opts instead for a part-70s crime flick, part-chamber drama focused on a small group of wayward souls: Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), an aging gambler, John (John C. Reilly), a troubled young man whom Sydney takes under his wing, and Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a Reno cocktail waitress. Sydney, the poker-faced moral and philosophical center of the group, leads his younger companions out of the trouble they naturally stir up, but holds a huge secret of his own, one which threatens to shatter the delicate balance they’ve created. “Movies like Hard Eight remind me of what original, compelling characters the movies can sometimes give us.”—Roger Ebert.

Genres: Drama, Crime

Other Films by Paul Thomas Anderson

Inherent Vice

Adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel for the screen is a task at which none have succeeded before Anderson, who sculpts a highly amusing, atmospheric screenplay out of Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Joaquin Phoenix returns for his second work with Anderson as Larry “Doc” Sportello, an incessantly pot-smoking private detective on the trail of

The Master

WWII veteran and consummate alcoholic Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), aimless and adrift following the end of the war and his reintroduction into American society, takes up with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams). Dodd, the leader of a shadowy movement called “The Cause”—which bears more than a passing resemblance to

There Will Be Blood

Anderson’s features, while always sharpening their edges as they go, have never been hard-as-nails as this adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!”. Daniel Day-Lewis inhabits oilman Daniel Plainview, a leathery explorer intent on creating and quickly expanding an oil empire during the late-19th Century. With his adopted son as his partner, Plainview soon strikes it

Punch Drunk Love

With two sprawling, epic works preceding it, with this film Anderson sought to make a “Friday night film,” a short, compact entertainment in the classical mode—as much as possible with Anderson, anyway. Reinvigorating Adam Sandler’s career as Barry Egan, a neurotic plunger salesman with seven sisters and a newfound harmonium, this unassuming, highly unconventional film


Anderson’s third feature takes the theme of chance and applies it to the stories of a cadre of Angelinos on the brink, where chance meetings both threaten to disrupt a fragile order and offer a shot at redemption springing from unexpected sources. Two classic, titanic father-figures structure the film’s expansive focus: dying movie mogul Earl