King of the Hill

King of the Hill

DVD - 2014
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Set in St. Louis during the Depression, it follows the daily struggles of a resourceful and imaginative adolescent who, after his tubercular mother is sent to a sanatorium, must survive on his own in a run-down hotel during his salesman father2s long business trips.

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BenHarrison20
Mar 21, 2017

An absolutely fantastic film following a struggling boy in 1930s St. Louis. This is my first Soderbergh film, but certainly not my last. The story is intriguing and the characters are extremely likeable. There are some great characters in this such as Lester played by Adrien Brody and the elevator girl. Funny, thought-provoking, and depressing, this is not a film you want to miss.

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biffblack
Oct 30, 2016

How can a movie be so well acted (mostly) and yet be terrible? Answer: when you have Steven Soderbergh as a writer-director. The first 40 minutes or so are pretty good, if too slickly commercial, then the film tanks in its apocalyptic 2nd hour. Except for Jesse Bradford in the leading role, most of the actors float by in cameos. There are great, fleeting moments here by Kristin Griffith and Amber Benson, as a chipper mom and gravely ill daughter, respectively; by Lauryn Hill as an elevator operator; by Adrien Brody as the main character's only real friend; by Lisa Eichhorn, who looks beautiful as the tubercular mom; and by Elizabeth McGovern, cast way against type as a chain-smoking prostitute. There's really only one dud performance in the entire cast, and it's by an actor who was unknown in 1993 and has stayed unknown -- the one who plays the sadistic bellhop who terrorizes the hotel guests when they can't pay their bills, and it's an unplayable part anyway. Maybe some of these events did happen to AE Hotchner in real life, but Soderbergh stages certain things for maximum lack of believability. I didn't buy it when the starving little boy left his school graduation party without any food, and the dream sequence of Hooverville being busted up by the police just comes across as a gimmick. And there are worse problems with the staging, which I won't go into.

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ncs1961
Sep 10, 2014

AE Hotchner's memory of one boy's depression era year in St Louis is full of heart and detail. Interesting tidbits like cigar bands, marbles, kids' hair, and hotel/hoover-ville life. He tells us how he remembers it - the the imaginative stories (not lies), the excitement (hiding fear), the unpredictable good/bad adults - whether family or neighbor... and the unrelenting heat! I think he meant us to see it through a child's eye, and Soderburgh's film glows ...maybe with a bit too much gloss and without enough grit to bounce it off of. Aaron needs stories and optimism to survive...I need a reality check, too - maybe some historical stills of the main characters not being so lovely, some black and white sequences to help viewers taste the dust in the alleys and smell the despair in those halls. I'm going to look for the book, then watch it again. Special features are worth a look.

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