Special Feature: Hard Eight and the cinema of chance

Casinos and other forms of gambling have quite often featured in the films industry for decades now. This should come to no surprise either as tension naturally tends to build around tables games in casinos. When it comes to casinos in films they can be depicted in several different ways from gamblers being incredibly shady in 21 to grand casinos filled with high rollers in Casino Royale. There are now so many different gambling films that have a great mixture of thrill and excitement with worldwide appeal.

In gambling every time a hand is dealt in real time as well as in a film it can always be an intense moment which can easily be transferred on screen. Gambling has always been a popular pastime, but in recent years the popularity has seemed to grow, especially with so much technology readily available at our fingertips. Players are now able to have the freedom of playing wherever, whenever and whatever they want with online casino sites like 888casino.com. Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight doesn't get enough credit for being such a good gambling film. Ironically, the film is named after a gambling hand which features in a variety of classic casino table games including blackjack and craps.

Before Anderson was known for Boogie Nights and Magnolia, he made his directing debut with Hard Eight. Often depicted as a thriller, it gets into all the little details of gambling schemes but it is less about overcoming the odds and focuses more on the massive divide between life experience and youthful mistakes, which all comes together in a climax towards the end. What makes Hard Eight one of the greatest gambling films is that it follows the story of a street- smart gambler named Sydney who takes a down and out loser, John under his wing. Sydney then offers to teach John how to make money from gambling in casinos. The duo begin to establish themselves as rather successful gamblers , however they don't turn into high rollers, the story stays close to real life and they make enough money just to get by.

After a few years of success, Sydney's and John's relationship does start to become complicated when John falls in love with a cocktail waitress. The great appeal to Hard Eight is that the storyline offers so much more than just gambling, it has a master and student relationship, it has an underdog rising through the ranks as well as a love story, which makes the film so much more appealing to a wider audience. However, many often overlook Hard Eight as just a crime thriller, yet the film has so much more to offer. Another main reason the film can be considered as one of the greatest gambling films is the cast consistently reappears throughout Anderson's other films. The actors were also given nearly two years to get into character and experiment, whereas in most cases they only have a few months.

Ultimately, Hard Eight is a great gambling movie for a variety of reasons, but it tries to stay close to reality, unlike casino films like Casino Royale which very much shows casinos in a glamorous thrilling light. Hard Eight is about showing hardships that the characters face in a realistic setting. The film pays attention to people who inhabit city nights according to their own rules, people who have learned from experience and don't like to make the same mistakes twice.


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