Without a doubt, I would argue King of the Hill to be the best American film of the 1990's above any other American film you can think of. The subtlety of the performances and the evocative production design pull you into the carefully constructed world of Aaron Kurlander, building the right level oh humour and drama, and never allowing it's self to become bogged down with tacky sentimentality. Steven Soderbergh really out-did himself with this one, and it's by far the best thing he's done, you can forget the overrated, over-hyped Oscar nabbing rubbish of Traffic, this showed a young director willing to experiment with tried and tested film-making techniques and find the right visual language for the film. King of the Hill is a film that is so deliberately paced, and so elegantly put together, that at times it's as though your not watching an American film at all, there is such a European atmosphere that it seems out of place with some of the other U.S. film released in the same year (Jurassic Park, Mrs Doubtfire and Cliffhanger being just three of the top grossing movies of 93).
So is it any wonder that King of the Hill failed to set the box office alight with popcorn based seat fillers like that, I mean, who wants to see the story of a young boy coming of age under the harshest conditions when you can see Robin Williams vacuuming in drag to the sounds of Aerosmith. Yeah, sounds like a safe bet for all the family. But King of the Hill is such a good movie, that the hard-to-describe plot should be overlooked, and people should just give it a chance, they will be so moved by Aaron's plight, and so drawn in by Soderbergh's direction (coupled with Elliot Davis' composition heavy cinematography) and detailed production design that they will not be able to pull themselves away. Added to that the great acting from the entirety of the eclectic cast, that includes Jeroen Krabbe, Spalding Grey, Elizabeth McGovern, Karen Allen, new comers Jesse Bradford and Cameron Boyd, and (then) unknowns Adrien Brody (who was great as Ritchie in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam) and Roswell star Katherine Heigl. Soderbergh's handling of his young actors is nothing short of genius, their characters and characterization is multi-layered to the extent that we never doubt that their characters are real.
King of the Hill is an unbelievable film that, as I have already said, is (in my opinion) the greatest American film of the nineties and should be seen by everyone who is a fan of not just intelligent cinema, but film lover's in general. And it's about time the film got some kind of proper video and/or DVD release, as it's unavailability is scandalous. 10/10
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