Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jacquy Pfeiffer, Sebastien Canonne, Philippe Rigollot, Regis Lazard, Nicolas Sarkozy, Frederique Lazard, Philippe Urraca
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 84
Date: 11/06/2009

Kings of Pastry (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cream Puffs Not Allowed

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The legendary husband-and-wife documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus ( and D.A. Pennebaker (Dont Look Back, The War Room, etc.) return with this light-as-a-cream-puff film about a pastry competition in France. The film makes its San Francisco premiere at the Balboa Theater, accompanied by a dessert tasting on Sunday, November 21.

The winners of this contest become Meilleurs Ouvriers de France; they wear special collars and become lifetime members of a elite club of chefs. The movie follows Chicago-based Jacquy Pfeiffer and a few other chefs on their journey to the competition, which lasts three days and is more than a little harrowing; it's a real race against the clock. Chefs are required to make pastries and cookies and chocolates, of course, but part of the contest includes making towering, precarious sugar sculptures. The most harrowing sequence in the film is when one chef, having finished his sculpture, attempts to move it from the kitchen to the showroom.

The filmmakers manage to capture the personality quirks of some of the chefs (and their families), making interesting characters of them. The movie spends a little time on regular pastries -- things that people can actually eat -- and it's fascinating and devastating to see the chefs finish these delectable things of beauty, only to toss them out for some small flaw. Unfortunately, the bulk of the movie concentrates on the sculptures, and while they're pretty, they have little to do with the art of cooking and even less to do with the joy of eating.

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