King of the Hill was first introduced to me at about 1:00am GMT where it was screened on television. Although I felt tired at the time having worked a full day, from the minute Aaron started his talk to the closing credits, I was glued to the screen.
The lush visuals of KOTH are nothing short of spectacular. The noir imagery of the hotel, with the depression era setting fit perfectly. the visuals are matched by amazing scores from Cliff Martinez who makes an excellent choice of music, showing depressive tones with a feeling of hope.
Likewise the acting is just flawless. Jesse Bradford should have been Oscar nominated, and Jeroen Krabbé, known for his bad guy parts, turns in a superb performance as Aaron's father. Adrien Brody, who will be known to viewers from Thin Red Line and Summer of Sam, makes a hugely welcome addition as Lester, Aaron's compadré. Lauryn Hill even makes an impressive cameo.
Which brings me to the supporting cast. I have never seen such an amazing ensemble of supports. Each have their own backstory, and you could swear that you knew these people after the film. They do not get as much screentime as Aaron, but the impact they make and the suggestions made of their past and future paint their picture out very fully. I was amazed at how many times I watched the film and picked out something new every time.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is not a Soderbergh film, and while he has gone onto make more critically acclaimed films (Traffic, even Oceans Eleven), this will surely be his best. In fact, it is one of the best films I have ever seen. Sadly, it's the most underrated film ever made. I am quite sad because I know, in the back of my mind, that only a handful of people (in relative terms) will ever see this.
This movie is very hard to get nowadays, (I had to search for two years to find a copy on VHS in the USA nonetheless) and I admit you might not want to do as an exhaustive search for it as I did if you haven't seen the film. But for those who have, King of the Hill is a must-see, and I only hope a Special Edition DVD will be made.
5 out of 5
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