HARD EIGHT
1996, Paramount, 102 min, USA, Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Seasoned professional gambler Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) takes on a young homeless man (John C. Reilly) as his protégé after learning of his struggles to raise money for his mother’s burial. Enveloped by the pulpy world of Reno casinos, both men soon become involved in murder, prostitution and kidnapping - vices that are all the more ominous once it becomes clear Sydney is hiding a devastating secret. Paul Thomas Anderson’s thrilling debut feature contains wonderful supporting performances by Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson and offers a fresh, original study of themes that later occur throughout the director’s body of work.


MAGNOLIA
1999, Warner Bros., 188 min, USA, Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s mosaic of American life woven through a series of comic and poignant vignettes centers on one day in the San Fernando Valley. A dying father, a trophy wife (Julianne Moore), a caretaker (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a flashy and misogynist self-help guru (Tom Cruise), a police officer in love (John C. Reilly), a boy genius, an ex-boy genius (William H. Macy), a game-show host (Philip Baker Hall) and an estranged daughter (Melora Walters) each become part of a dazzling multiplicity of plots devolving into one magnificent story.


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