Hard Eight

Feel lucky?

You probably shouldn’t, as most gamblers are born losers, something silky mystery man Philip Baker Hall exploits.

As the star of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s film debut, he has a seeming soft spot for down-on-his-luck newbie John C. Reilly, however.

Taking him under his wing, the old man keeps a skeptical eye on Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson, who ooze across the screen in knockout early roles.

Anderson, who has gone on to give us landmark films like Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, was already The Man from day one.

See where the magic started.

There Will Be Blood

“I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!!”

Daniel Day-Lewis descends into beautiful, twisted madness as only he can, sinking into the muck and mire as a man who wants just one thing – to dominate the world and all in it.

A ruthless oilman who plunders both the land and the psyches of anyone who gets too close to his orbit, he’s a sight to behold.

The screen can barely contain Day-Lewis when he’s on a rager, yet he plays quiet pathos with as much power as he does the volcanic eruptions.

Just try and look away. I dare you.

Boogie Nights

I like to watch.

Stumble across this film anywhere, at any time, and it’s hard to look away.

A sprawling story of porn gods ‘n goddesses, and all the desperate hanger-ons who wander through the background of their sun-kissed, cocaine-fueled lives, it’s mesmerizing.

Mark Wahlberg has never been better as the man with the biggest “talent” in town, but Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, and a truly tragic Julianne Moore also headline in a remarkably deep cast.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson consistently delivers knockout films and this plunge into the slick but grimy side of the movie industry remains a landmark.