Hard Eight

Director/Writer:Paul Thomas Anderson
Director of Photography:Robert Elswit
Editor:Barbara Tulliver
Music:Michael Penn and Jon Brion
Production Designer:Nancy Deren
Producers:Robert Jones and John Lyons
Rysher Entertainment; R; 101 minutes
Cast:Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson and F. William Hoffman

A seedy, cool character study of complex relationships that spins into a dark nightmare. Well-dressed older man Sydney (Hall) approaches down-and-out younger man John (Reilly), buys him coffee and changes his life by teaching him how to work the casinos. Two years later, the mentor and protégé are still a team, but John has befriended a sleazy security guard (Jackson) that Sydney neither trusts nor likes. John's cocktail waitress/occasional prostitute girlfriend (Paltrow) gets the group in big trouble in a bloody episode involving her split personality. First-time filmmaker Anderson shows promise with an ingeniously calculated yet unpredictable film.