King of the Hill

Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape made him an overnight indie darling. Then came Kafka, which was weird and trippy but lacked substance. So in 1993 he combined his visual skills with storytelling skills to produce King of the Hill, a depression-era memoir based on A.E. Hotchner’s book. (The book, by the way, is really good, and Soderbergh does a surprisingly faithful job with the material.)

Despite being nominated for a Palm d’Or, King of the Hill came and went, unnoticed by pretty much everyone, barely screening in theaters and going right to the video store. For those of us lucky enough to have picked it up there, we were treated to one of the most beautiful and moving tributes to human survival and ingenuity ever made. Everything goes wrong for Aaron- a boy forced to survive basically on his own while the country goes to all hell- and yet he survives with incredible flair. There’s nothing flashy about the film, but it’s so beautifully shot and put together, you can’t help but fall in love with the story. With wonderful little performances by people like Spalding Grey and Adrien Brody to boot, it’s Soderbergh’s finest- and least known- moment.

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