King of the Corner (2004) Poster

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It's Death of a Salesman with a better ending.
ehuffste20 October 2004
Peter Riegert's film, King of the Corner, based on Gerald Shapiro's work, Bad Jews and Other Stories, offers a remarkable glimpse into one man's struggle to balance the demands of dealing with an aging parent, raising a teenager daughter, remaining faithful in his marriage, maintaining some sort of credibility at work, as well as coming to terms with his own past choices. I absolutely loved the way in which the central metaphors worked in the film--Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," the image of the "bad Jew" dancing around the idol while Moses is receiving the stone tablets, and the story of Leo's father playing "King of the Corner" in the swimming pool. These sorts of symbolic connections give this movie a measure of humanity and much more depth than you would find in a typical Hollywood film.

Riegert's performance was wonderfully low key. Leo doesn't whine, he doesn't rant (except maybe in the scene with the focus group), and he doesn't degenerate into farce (except maybe in the scene when he confronts his lover's husband). For the most part, he remains sensitive and thoughtful as he tries to put his world back together. The highlight of Riegert's portrayal is the scene at his father's funeral. It was an emotionally charged scene, a scene that many actors would have been tempted to overdo, that was played perfectly by Riegert.

This is truly wonderful film. Eli Wallach, Rita Moreno, Beverly D'Angelo...everyone does a terrific job. If you want to see a warm, thoughtful film about real people trying to come to terms with real issues in a sometimes crazy world, then this is a film you shouldn't miss.
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Peter Reigert's shows us so much of a man's search for meaning
rockethenry16 October 2004
King of the Corner is a gift to us from a group of wonderfully talented actors (Eli Wallach, Isabella Rossellini, Rita Moreno, Peter Reigert and more) who are brought together by Peter Reigert to tell this story of a man coming apart at the seams. Leo is under pressure by his ailing dad, by a younger man competing for his job, by a wife unhappy with the marriage, by a difficult teenage daughter and by a sense of life losing all meaning. With a very healthy mix of humor and warmth, Leo lives the minutes and hours of his life fully and suffers his way forward in a way that we want to go with him and learn and live our way forward. This is a highly recommended film for everybody who wants to follow the human condition through the story of one man and his struggles.
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Wry and delicious little indie film
Betsy10 October 2004
Peter Riegert's feature directorial (and screenplay writing) debut and I'd say it was auspicious. He's assembled a great cast: Isabella Rossellini, a wonderfully curmudgeonly Eli Wallach, Eric Bogosian, with the usual quality work from Riegert himself, and a nice comic performance from Dustin Hoffman's son Jake. It has the feel of a European film: humor, pathos, manic comedy, more than one touch of wisdom and insight. This is a little fable that never loses its touch with reality, though in the way of many comedies it goes off the rails once or twice. Great ensemble work from Riegert and the entire cast--the film has a philosophical viewpoint, and yet is not afraid of showing real emotion. Highly recommended.
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Wonder Boys meets Death of a Salesman?
douglasec10 October 2004
First-time feature director Peter Riegert gathered a great ensemble cast for this combination of two short stories from Gerald Shapiros's wonderful book "Bad Jews" (recently featured in NPR interviews) about a middle-aged salesman and his family coping with aging parents, rebellious teens and former high school crushes from years past. Some of the products Leo (Riegert) does focus groups for are outrageous (a voice changer for phones that makes you sound like Gregory Peck, an alarm that scares off burglars with a pre-recorded family quarrel). His protege, Ed (Dustin Hoffman's son, Jake, described in the original screenplay as "looks like a young Dustin Hoffman" - what were the chances?) starts pushing for Leo's job while Leo's dad (Eli Wallach) steals scenes as a querulous curmudgeonly senior. Eric Bogosian is a welcome addition as a free-lance rabbi who makes Leo confront his father's legacy (best clerical scene-stealer since Rowan Atkinson in Four Weddings and a Funeral), and Mamma Mia! Rita Moreno, Isabella Rossellini and Beverly D'Angelo competing as "mature" sex symbols of the year! At today's Mill Valley Film Fest screening Peter said he'll open in NY & LA at least (March 2005)and build from there. A charming low-budget labor of love that may have to earn a reputation by word of mouth (unless someone from Miramax is paying attention- are you there, Harv?)...
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A bittersweet comedy that deserves a wider audience
Judy Martinez17 April 2005
First comment: People, don't forget to submit a vote with your review! I'm reading the reviews and most are excellent, and I'm wondering why the overall rating is only a 6.3. Then I see a lot of excellent reviews with NO VOTE! I assume these are counted as ZEROs in the rating.

REVIEW - I saw this movie at the Philadelphia Film Festival on 4/16/2004. I thought it was very good - both sad and funny. My favorite part was the interaction between the main character, Leo (Peter Riegert) and his father (Eli Wallach). Eric Bogosian was also very funny as the rabbi. And although her part was small, it was worth seeing how great Rita Moreno looked - Wow, she looks amazing! She made Isabella Rossellini look like a haggard old frump. The daughter was nothing special, and the weakest link was the up and coming business hot shot played by Jake Hoffman (Dustin Hoffman's son.) He was too young and goofy to play a ruthless guy moving up in the business world.

It's a shame that a bittersweet comedy like this that combines elements of different genres and can't be easily characterized as a "Drama" or a "Comedy" or a "Tearjerker" will have trouble finding an audience. Hollywood's marketing people need to do a better job of finding an audience for these films - there are tons of people who want to see movies like this, and they are too lazy to figure out how to market them. It's easy to market to teenage boys - do a little work and figure out how to reach the audience who wants to see movies like this! The only scene I thought was a little unrealistic was the scene I'll simply refer to as the "underwear" scene. As the scene was going on, I thought maybe it was going to be revealed as a dream sequence - it just seemed like such a strange and out of character thing for Leo to do.

I would love to see this movie find its rightful audience. Many people would enjoy this movie.
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wonderful film
coolstufguy26 March 2005
just saw this film today in the buffalo, ny area. peter riegert was on hand after the show to answer questions, and i thought it was fantastic that he was doing that. what impressed me most about the film was that it was so understated. on the surface, it's "just" a good, funny story about everyday problems in the life of a middle aged Jewish man in the business world. yet it's just that which makes the movie so human. also, there's several things that happen, particularly things which the characters are thinking, which he doesn't outright tell the audience. yet the viewer still gets the sense of it, and fills it in by his/her self. if you're looking to learn a little more about morality in today's world, i think your thoughts will be provoked by this film.
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Making the life of an average man interesting...
ethansfilm3 November 2004
I had the pleasure of seeing this film this past week (before it's official release) as Mr. Riegert screened it at Pitt college. This film is about an ordinary man (Leo) and the problems he faces. Mr. Riegert managed to tell this story in a way to make it interesting. Some may find the beginning of the film to be slow, but as the movie goes on the audience can't help but become pulled into the life of Leo.

Some of the problems Leo faces are common, letting the audience relate. Almost everybody can pick up something different from this film, and it has something people of all ages can relate to, I myself am 17 and found things in the movie that do reflect life as I know it. The theater was filled with people as young as myself to the elderly, everybody able to get something different out of the movie and it's characters.

The story is told straight out, with great writing and humorous moments. The acting is well done, and the film has many memorable moments (one being the funeral scene where Riegert really gives a moving performance). The movie was shot without many close-ups providing a style that allows the audience to gain perspective on everything going on, there are also few cuts, which allows you to notice change in character.

At the beginning, if you're thinking this movie is a documentary about a boring man, by the end you will have forgotten those thoughts while you think about Leo's life as though it is your own.

After the film I was able to speak with Mr. Riegert, who answered all questions and was eager to hear my thoughts, I have no complaints about this film, and enjoyed it very much and thank him for being there. He has done a fantastic job, not making an 'artsy' film, but telling life as it is. You will enjoy seeing Leo change in character from the beginning to the end. When you get the chance, see this movie. I know I will again.
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Fantastic film with fine performances all around.
spotlitev18 March 2005
I was fortunate enough to have seen a preview of this wonderful film and then discuss it in detail with the talented Mr. Riegert afterwords. He had a true passion for telling this story and he has done so in a masterful production with a talented cast. The story is poignant, touching, funny, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking and sometimes all at once. The camera work and cinematography is amazing an often on par with a good Woody Allen movie. The rarely-seen-anymore Isabella Rosselini is slightly underused but effective in every scene that she appears in. The same can be said for Rite Moreno who sneaks in a subtly fine performance. Eli Wallach finally makes a long-overdue screen appearance in what one could easily argue to be one of his finest. Finally, there is the unexpectedly skillfully orchestrated performance of Peter Riegert who somehow found a way to co-write and direct as well. It's a shame that this film may never get it's fair share of press and viewership due to the a lack of distribution because if it does, it would easily become a classic.
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Well-Done, Witty and Poignant Character Study
ghecht1113 July 2005
I screened this film at its Kansas City opening and found it an enjoyable and revealing tale of family life and a slice of modern Americana with more that one surprise and twist along the way. It is a film of depth and subtle textures that engages the audience by layers as it explores the personalities and relationships that propel the central characters through their lives. Peter Reigert and Isabella Rossellini turn in sensitive performances with a wonderful counterpoint provided by Eli Wallach in the role of the family patriarch.

Reigert's direction is cogent and trim, based on a literate, thoughtful script by Gerald Shapiro.
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Sincere, touching, and plenty of humor...
taliblankfeld1 November 2004
I had the privilege of attending the screening for this small yet universally meaningful film.

I hope it gets as much distribution as possible, because the actors' remarkable performances bring life to "normal everyday" characters that really remind us of human qualities we can all relate to in our own way.

Humorous bits and pieces keep the film light and tasteful, making it an easily enjoyable hour and twenty minutes.

I recommend this to those looking for an entertaining, worthwhile film.

Keep an eye out especially for the character of Betsy--a notable performance.
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Fantastic Film
devnullid18 October 2004
I saw this at the Woodstock Film Festival yesterday and it had everything I look for in a film. It wasn't overdone or edgy for edginess sake. Absent was the inauthentic formulaic filler that spoils most Hollywood films for me.

Great cast, character development, wit, humor and humanity. For me it was similar to the first time I read Miller's "Death of a Salesman." It had the depth of a play.

A tremendously funny and moving film, it was a highlight (for me) at the festival. Audiences that have had enough of car chases, inane plots will probably totally dig the film. The crowd I was with at the film was overwhelmingly moved.
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Very enjoyable film
curlylarrynmoe26 March 2005
The film was great. The characters were interesting and I became invested in the film early on. The cast was eclectic and it worked. Eli Wallach continued to deliver. Peter Riegert plays a non observant Jew going through major life challenges, and he did this very well. Listen to some of the dialog carefully. Yes, there are times it is extremely funny, but more often that that, the dialog and conversations are thought-inspiring and meaningful. It makes for great post movie discussions. If you are able, and live in one of the cities Riegert is personally screening this movie, he holds a live Q & A after the film. There is something in this movie for moviegoers of all generations.
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Excellent movie!
cliffiez14 December 2004
I am a film student at Columbia College in Chicago, recently I had the chance to view a screening of King of the Corner. My God was it Hilarious and greatly acted. King of The Corner has to be the best movie I have seen in a long time. This is the type of movie the reeks true American Filmic Artform, and kicks the basic Hollywood nonsense right in the prunes.

It is the story of a middle aged Jewish man named Leo that is facing a mid life crisis in work, his marriage and his relationship with his father. In every circumstance, the result was a very smart, funny and intelligent climax. I don't want to talk too much about the story for fear of giving too much away and I am also not a great "critical writer" so I don't want to turn anybody off to the film. But I will say that the cast and the performances were unbelievable. Eric Bogosian plays a Rabbi in probably the funniest role i have ever seen him. Dominc "Uncle Junior" Chianese from the Sopranos is perfect in his role of a funereal director, Jake Hoffman is perfect as a weasely occupational subordinate, Rita Moreno and Beverly D'angelo are both perfect in smaller roles that fit in perfectly. But one of the best comedic performances I have seen in a long time, was Pete Riegart the director who was excellent in the title role.

I really cannot believe that he pulled it off as a writer/ actor/ director! But he did this with flying colors and I am pretty sure this film will be the first in a series of really good films with solidly built characters and plot. You will laugh and laugh hard.
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Great Movie and Great Opportunity
jordango-131 July 2005
How often do you get to see an excellent film and then participate in a question and answer session with the director afterwards? King of the Corner offers this rare opportunity as director and star Peter Riegert is travelling around the US with this movie. His tour schedule is at the film's website

The movie itself is a wonderful ensemble film centering on the life of Leo Spivak (Riegert), a middle aged Jewish man with a lot of problems. His job at a market research firm doing focus groups is mundane, his father (wonderfully played by 90 year old Eli Wallach) is angry, his teenage daughter is out of control and his marriage (to the wonderful Isabella Rossellini) is in a rocky period. The movie focuses on all aspects of Spivak's life without solving his issues.

The acting is great, the movie is entertaining, and Riegert does a marvelous job in his role as co-writer, director and star. There are funny and sad parts and it will make you think. I recommend it highly.
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King of the Corner
bg221128 July 2005
We saw this wonder little film on June 11th in San Francisco. Peter Reigert was on a radio talk show KGO with Ronn Owens and spoke about his career and his new film. We went to s screening of it on the weekend and it was delightful. He is trying to market the film and he appeared after all the showings to answer questions. We went to the noon showing and when the credits rolled he appeared in the audience and the Q & A began. The film was wonderful. A little movie with humor and a lot of heart. Peter Reigert fulfilled our request to have our VHS copy of one of his older films "Crossing Delancey" signed by him, which he did. We wish him the best on getting this film seen by serious movie goers. Good Luck Peter! It was great meeting you. You movie "King of The Corner" is special! Sincerely, Joyce & Brian (San Francisco Bay Area).
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Eli Wallach- The Best Performance I Have Seen This Year.
staats-117 July 2005
Ell Wallach's performance as the lively, irascible and crotchety "King of the Corner" is the best I have seen this year. It is a shame this movie has not received distribution as it will probably doom his chances during award season. This work is a crown on his golden career that entitles him to be there.

I presume the distribution was not achieved because it was perceived to be "too Jewish." As a WV hillbilly and Friend (Quaker) this is a human movie about the human condition not just the Jewish condition.

I do not need car crashes, aliens, or super heroes. If Hollywood is wondering why people are staying home, it is because movies like this one can not find a distributor.

Many thanks to Peter Riegert (writer, director and actor) for supporting his jewel of a film. Maybe someone will allow him to make a whole movie about Sol Spivak. THAT IS A MOVIE I REALLY WANT TO SEE!
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nicely done
jcoga200516 July 2005
This is a dark comedy reminiscent of "American Beauty," plenty flawed but worth taking the trouble to see. Peter Riegert's character, Leo, makes a living moderating focus groups, frustrated with his dull job, dull marriage and rebellious daughter. Every two weeks, he flies to see his father, who lives in a nursing home in Arizona. Sometimes the jokes are a little forced, Leo's behavior a little too wacky for the stereotypical downtrodden suburban dad we've been led to believe he is. But it's dryly, wonderfully funny in unexpected places, which keeps it from sagging when it might have otherwise. "King of the Corner" is a movie about monotony and guilt, and, ultimately, every man's struggle for his father's acceptance. I look forward to Mr. Riegert's sophomore effort.
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go see this film
ethanherschenfeld7 July 2005
the film is excellent. based on a great book of short stories "bad jews and other stories" which i read and enjoyed in 2003. the film combines elements from two of those short stories into a compelling drama which is both really really funny, and poignant. if you have a father, or a daughter, or a wife, or a job, it will resonate with you. if you have none of the above, it will still resonate with you. great characters and performances by a top notch cast. and a hilarious Gregory Peck bit. bogosian is maybe the best rabbi on film since the frisco kid. the only reason i don't give it a 10 is because that rating is reserved for Xanadu and Xanadu alone.
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A must see comment of everyday life.
fdrey17 July 2005
It's been 3 days since I've seen this wonderful movie and still thinking about it and all the wonderful stories it contains. It should have been included with all the movies up for awards this year. There is something in this movie for everyone to relate to in their life.

I just left a woman of 101 who used the line "Why is it so hard to die"? How many people have felt the same?

How many have been caught in a routine position where there is always the fear of losing their job and not really feeling happy or appreciated for their work?

How many of us have worried about our teenage children?

All of these relevant subjects have been developed in this marvelous film with deep thought and much humor.
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Warm, funny and thought-provoking
Daisyschain5 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is so subtly well crafted that many of the themes aren't apparent until hours or even days after viewing it. The meaning of the title "King of the Corner" isn't apparent until well into the movie when Leo, at his father's funeral, tells the story of playing with him in the neighborhood pool as a young boy and his Dad tirelessly defending his corner of the pool against all comers. What becomes clear is that as a metaphor for the issues being faced by each generation of the Spivak family. Elaina is a teenager struggling for some freedom with her parents, skillfully playing them off of each other. Leo is struggling for some meaning in his life. In spite of having Middle-America's "dream life" - a lovely suburban home, a beautiful daughter (Ashly Johnson) and a gorgeous wife (Isabella Rossellini), he's unfulfilled and acts out in self-destructive ways. It's not until he finds a way to be "king" of his own corner of the world that he manages to take charge of his life, albeit accidentally.

Even though the family portrayed is Jewish, it's not an ethnic film. The trials of this family are universal and the appeal of the film is that the characters are warm and real.

If go to movies expecting action and sex, this film's probably not for you (though there is a bit of both alluded to here). If you enjoy skillfully crafted character studies, you'll probably like this movie. Four days after seeing it, I'm still savoring the characters.
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Extremely enjoyable film!!
lokin-126 June 2005
I saw this movie with my husband and several friends. We all agreed that it was a very enjoyable, entertaining movie containing moments of laughter, sadness, and realistic situations in most of the scenes.

Some of the scenes were extremely funny, and some of them were very touching with moments that are universally related to parents who are ill or dying. Eil Wallach was wonderful as the ailing father. His son finally realizes the full value of his father late in the movie.

Rita Moreno played a small, yet lovely part in the movie. Isabella Rossellini played an understated part (but better this way than overstated!) Peter Riegert was wonderful in this part. He played it sympathetically in his relationships with his wife, daughter, father and realistically with his employer.

I would highly recommend this movie for an enjoyable evening at the movies. It should have been picked up quickly by distributors, but that's another story!!
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It is a fun and a serious movie
imfeit20 June 2005
We enjoyed this movie very much. Although a comedy, it provides many serious thoughts and a good satire of our society. The movie raised many questions, but the answers in most cases needed to be provided by the spectator himself.

You might consider it a vindication of "Death of a Salesman". It is also refreshing how it handled religion.

I strongly recommend it. In rating, I added one star [9] for low budget and for excellent cast, especially Eli Wallach, Peter Rigert, Rita Moreno and Eric Bogosian.

Is is good to know that you still can make a very good movie without spending mega-millions.
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This is a great film
bsmithpss-16 June 2005
King of the Corner is one of those rare films that points out both the drama and humor in a ordinary life. It's main character, Leo could be any one of us. A man in middle age with a job, a family, a father in a nursing home who is just trying to figure it all out. His sharp wit helps him to keep the world at bay until events conspire to make him face his life.

Peter Reigert does a great job of directing a standout cast. Eli Wallach and Rita Moreno are particularly good and Eric Begosian as an non-traditional rabbi is hilarious.

They should make more movies like this!
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An old friend explores an old problem beautifully
rcohen25522 May 2005
Peter Reigert has been a treasure to film buffs as far back as Animal House,Crossing Delaney and wonderful other character parts that have made his presence on screen feel like an old friend. Like many others, I had the privilege of seeing a preview of this movie followed by a short interview with the man himself. He minimized his involvement in the film, as being little more than someone who 'knew people in the industry, and 'they needed me to make a couple of phone calls'- But Reigert earned his presence in this film and was dead on as the man in the middle of a mid life crisis, walking through his life much like his dad. Self examination doesn't come easy for his character, but when it does, Reigert unleashes a poignant and emotional performance. Kudos to Eli Wallach. Listen carefully, there is dialogue here that sets this movie apart and gets all of us thinking.
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A New Version of Marty
bkoganbing25 March 2005
I just came from a screening of King of the Corner that Peter Riegert hosted and it was a pleasure to see a film with good acting and an emphasis on a believable plot with very ordinary people who are identifiable characters.

On the way home from the screening, the best comparison I could come up with is Marty. Another small budget film which made it by word of mouth and resulted in Oscars awarded to it. Also about New York urban characters who lead ordinary lives.

Both Ernest Borgnine's Marty and Peter Riegert's Leo Spevak are in middle age and life has not quite turned out the way they had hoped for. Marty is dealing with his mother and Leo with his father. However Leo is also dealing with crises with his marriage, his child and his job.

Leo makes some dumb moves, but it's how everything is resolved that is the crux of the story. I won't give the ending away, but let us say that things work out on some fronts and the jury is still out on other's.

Soon to be 90 year old Eli Wallach plays Peter Riegert's father and he does it with zest. He's a former traveling salesman, Willy Loman if Willy had lived long enough to retire and hit senior citizenry. I hope word of mouth gets out about this and some drums get beating for a Supporting Actor Oscar for Mr. Wallach.

The rest of the cast fit their roles nicely. I would also single out Harris Yulin as Peter Riegert's boss. Mr. Yulin has never gotten his just due. He's delivered some fine performances over the years and this one is one of his best.

By all means go out and see this film, it would well worth your while.
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