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Hard Eight (1996)

Sydney (original title)
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Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.
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1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
John
...
...
Jimmy
...
Hostage
...
Young Craps Player (as Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Nathanael Cooper ...
Restroom Attendant
Wynn White ...
Waitress
Robert Ridgely ...
Keno Bar Manager
Kathleen Campbell ...
Keno Girl
Michael J. Rowe ...
Pit Boss
Peter D'Allesandro ...
Bartender
Steve Blane ...
Stickman
Xaleese ...
Cocktail Waitress
...
Jimmy's Girl
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Storyline

John has lost all his money. He sits outside a diner in the desert when Sydney happens along, buys him coffee, then takes him to Reno and shows him how to get a free room without losing much money. Under Sydney's fatherly tutelage, John becomes a successful small-time professional gambler, and all is well, until he falls for Clementine, a cocktail waitress and sometimes hooker. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When good luck is a long shot, you have to hedge your bets. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, some violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hard Eight  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$69,486 (USA) (28 February 1997)

Gross:

$142,356 (USA) (7 March 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features two well known actors; John C Reilly and Samuel L Jackson. Both actors have the first letter of their middle names - Christopher and Leroy respectively - included in their names making them sound distinguished. See more »

Goofs

Camera operator's shadow visible on the ground during the first scene where Sydney meets John (full-frame version only). See more »

Quotes

Sydney: I have a friend in Los Angeles. Someone... maybe someone who can help. I can make a call for you, tell him you're a friend, so on and so forth, and we can work this thing out here. I think if you need help paying for your mother's funeral, we can work it out. I want you to see that my reasons for doing this are not selfish, only this: I'd hope that you would do the same for me.
John Finnegan: I would. Thank you.
Sydney: [shakes John's hand] It's always good to meet a new friend. I'll see you later.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Magnolia (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Christmastime
Music by Jon Brion and Michael Penn
Performed by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn
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User Reviews

 
Soft Eight
15 July 2007 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

I really enjoyed Boogie Nights, as it seems most people have, and I totally hated Magnolia. I feel asleep twice trying to watch Punch Drink Love and have since given up. So the other night I thought it was finally time to watch Hard Eight and see what all the fuss was about.

Throughout the entire film I was left waiting for some real character development, or maybe some characters with an IQ greater than 35. Yes, Sydney seems cool and really deep, but in fact we never get to know anything more about him, what makes him tick, or how he actually makes his money. Who is this guy? Who are any of these people? Why do I care? Characters don't have to be super smart or crafty or ultra deep to be likable or interesting, but when all they add up to at the end of the day are a bunch of sketches about as thin as playing cards, it really makes you realize you're watching a very amateur or at least poorly written film. Such great acting talent is wasted here on performances that look and feel right out of a theatrical stage play or a student film trying to play on the level of Pulp Fiction, but with massively undeveloped characters, motivations, and plot turns that are totally arbitrary or just downright illogical. We never get any real back-story about anyone until almost the end of the film and many of the most interesting questions about what motivates these people are never answered. Instead we are left with what amounts to a collection of scenes that fail to tell a compelling or evolved story with only one major twist that comes out way too late.

Hard Eight is essentially a great short film or one act play with enough character development appropriate for those formats, but as a feature it simply lacks enough subject matter and overall development to be anything more than a sketch of a film with a threadbare storyline and one-sided, unidentifiable characters who end up reacting more like animals than humans.

Philip Seymour Hoffman despite having only one scene still manages to steal the show.


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