Posted by: kfugrip | July 7, 2007

Memories… misty water colored memories…

 Last weekend, or maybe it was Wednesday, Kelly and I watched Boogie Nights with commentary by P.T. Anderson. We had seen the movie before and I put it on with commentary so I could watch something while I ate… something. I like director’s commentary tracks and seek them out, so doing something like this is not unusual for me. Kelly isn’t a huge watcher of commentary tracks but she enjoyed this one and it led me to renting my 71st movie, Hard Eight, by Paul Thomas Anderson and watching it last night… without commentary. We’ll watch it later this weekend with the commentary track but I probably will not blog about it.

I mention commentary tracks because during Boogie Nights, Anderson mentions some bad things that happened to him on Sydney (a.k.a. Hard Eight) a number of times and I wanted to find out what those things were. Also there is an extra feature on the dvd about the Sundance Feature Labs, which I submitted to (and was rejected) this year.

I have seen Hard Eight before and I remember liking it but not loving it. Upon second viewing I liked the film more that I did before. It’s almost like a play in it’s dramatic set pieces. The dramatic payoff for the connection between the main characters didn’t have the punch it should have but there is emotion there. The movie was much more emotional than I remember. I think it has everything to do with the performances. John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, Gwenyth Paltrow… all good, all believable as these characters. Philip Baker Hall is understated and perfect as the old school tough guy that has “retired” to Nevada.

Anderson is getting his feet wet here. I haven’t listened to him talk about the film much, or read any interviews, but one can see the seeds of his filmmaking style present here. Some long steady-cam shots, shallow focus, rack focus shots, it’s all there and it works. In the beginning of the Boogie Nights commentary he says that he had made a film, Sydney, that was slow and deliberate in it’s pacing and he wanted to go the opposite way with his next movie, Boogie Nights. That is an observation that is easily made when watching the movies in reverse order. Since Hard Eight is smaller in scale than Boogie Nights there are times where we can watch characters think, a luxury that isn’t afforded the break neck pace of Boogie Nights or Magnolia.

I’m glad I re-watched this movie because it’s better than I remembered. 4 Stars.

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