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PCR # 276  (Vol. 6, No. 27)  This edition is for the week of July 4--10, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"King of the Corner"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Pursuit Films     
Starring: Peter Riegert, Isabella Rosselini, Eric Bogosian, Beverly D' Angelo and Eli Wallach
Directed by: Peter Riegert
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hours 33 mins

Long John Silver. Alan Quartermaine. Indiana Jones. These three fictional legends had one thing in common. They searched for the proverbial lost treasure, hoping to find a rare gem. Well, this past week I joined their ranks when I discovered "King of the Corner."

Leo Spivak (Peter Riegert) seems to have the perfect life. He's well respected at his job and has a beautiful wife and daughter. He travels every couple of weeks from his New Jersey home to visit his aging father, Sol (Eli Wallach), in Arizona. But beneath the surface Leo has the same fears every man has. Is his job secure? Are his wife and daughter happy? Is his father ok on the other side of the country? Simple thoughts, perhaps, but to Leo they seem to be insurmountable. This is the story of the "King of the Corner."

Leo is a marketing research whiz. When we meet him he is testing a new security device that he hopes will be popular with elderly women. The item in question can alter your voice on the telephone to sound like anyone, from the local butcher to Gregory Peck. In between sessions, Leo visits his father and learns that he has already made his final funereal arrangements and that he would like Leo to visit the funeral director to ensure all is ready. This is an old time funeral parlor, one where the director does his figuring on a noisy adding machines so that loved ones can "hear the sound of their savings." He also is put in touch with a traveling Rabbi (Eric Bogosian) who conducts his interviews at the local race track. Add to the mix a one-in-a-million run in with the woman he worshipped from afar in high school and you can see why Leo is having troubles. And his attempts to solve these troubles is what makes this movie a fun ride to take.

In the season of super heroes and alien attacks it is a rare treat indeed to see a film that is not only funny but original. A brilliant screenplay, co-written by Riegert and Gerald Shapiro and based on Shapiro's collection of short stories, as well as a top notch cast make this film one of this years best. Probably best known to film goers as Boone in "Animal House," Riegert has appeared in such films as "Local Hero" and the television musical "Gypsy," co-starring Bette Midler. He also has a recurring role on "The Sopranos." But in "King of the Corner" he gives his best performance to date, taking the audience on Leo's journey through laughter and tears. At age 90 Eli Wallach continues to be one of films' greatest character actors and he continues that tradition here. Bogosian, used so little in Hollywood that it borders on criminal, is hilarious as Rabbi Fink. Together with Rita Moreno and Dominic Chianese this is a cast that knows it's working with great material and rises to the occasion. As a director, Riegert shows a natural eye for camera placement, allowing the audience to be a part of the story without feeling like an eavesdropper.

A movie with heart is very rare these days. A movie that touches your heart is even rarer. "King of the Corner" is both. On a scale of zero to four stars I give "King of the Corner"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "King of the Corner" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.