King of the Corner (review)

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We’ve seen the midlife-crisis comedy a hundred times before, but the smarts and the gentle wit of this one makes it a standout of the genre. Star Peter Riegert (Traffic) makes his feature directorial debut with this off-kilter gem, letting the humanity of his characters — even the unsurprisingly wacky ones, like his dad, played by Eli Wallach (Mystic River) — shine through the rather clichéd forms they’ve been shoehorned into. (Riegert’s first film, the Oscar-nominated short “By Courier,” appears on this disc as a bonus feature.) The details of the plot will sound familiar, of course — the protege at work who’s bucking for the tired hero’s job; the elderly parent getting dotty in old age; the spouse frustrated and bored by the hero’s ennui — but with the likes of Isabella Rossellini (Heights) as the wife and Eric Bogosian (Blade: Trinity) as a “freelance rabbi” among the terrific cast, it’s as fresh as can be. Also on the disc: a making-of doc and commentary by Riegert.

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