Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson • 1996 • United States
Starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow
Paul Thomas Anderson made his feature debut with this coolly gripping neonoir, an expansion of his acclaimed short CIGARETTES & COFFEE. In one of his finest performances, Philip Baker Hall stars as Sydney, a veteran gambler who befriends the down-and-out John (John C. Reilly) outside a diner in Sparks, Nevada. Offering him a ride to Las Vegas, Sydney teaches John the tricks of his trade and molds him into a successful small-time gambler. Their father-and-son-like relationship, however, is threatened when John becomes involved with a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a security guard (Samuel L. Jackson) who threatens to expose Sydney’s darkest secret.