Friday, January 9, 2009

Hard Eight

Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997 (8.3*)
A superb cast makes this small indie film a big surprise winner. John C. Reilly, always excellent and an Oscar nominee for Chicago, is a casino newcomer, spotted by seasoned veteran Philip Baker Hall, in his best performance. He shows Reilly how to use the casino perks to rack up free meals and rooms, and other inside info on being a professional gambler. Gwyneth Paltrow even took a supporting role in this due to the excellent Anderson script, who also wrote and directed Boogie Nights. This could be the most revealing look at gambling and casinos on film, definitely from an experienced gambler perspective.

Note: I lived in Las Vegas once for a year, and craps (dice) was the only game where I could regularly win real money - hard for them to cheat you when YOU hold the gambling device itself! (forget ALL card games) A 'hard eight' is simply double fours, which pays ten for one if you hit it, so a $5 bet pays you $50 - and believe me, there are dice rollers out there who seem to ONLY throw doubles, with them you simply bet ALL the hard ways (4,6,8 and 10). I made $1000 off one of them once in about 20 minutes, so did his two buddies, and when he quit, so did I. You look for shooters like that... and you always quit after a hot run, "take the money and run".


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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