Kings of Pastry (2009) Poster

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10/10
Fantastic Documentary and inspiration
hatefilms28 February 2011
I don't know what these other guys reviewing were watching. There was blood, sweat, tears, effort, artistry, beauty (in a slightly kitschy way) and above all love. If you didn't know what made the people MOFs then you were not watching the documentary (the answer by the way is not on technical marking though that is obviously part of it). If you thought the filming was bad then you obviously did not realise that the MOF organisation would not have allowed the filming to get in the way of the MOFerie. And bravo to them and film makers for doing so - apart from anything it felt much more immediate than all these pseudo-documentaries with perfect film-making, soi-disant presenters/filmmakers and less than engrossing subjects. We loved this film as it shone a little light on a corner of the world that is purely about striving to reach perfection (see the MOF rules) with little thought about the media or hullaballoo. I wish they would have a similar award for artisans/tradespeople in my country but maybe it is a peculiarly French thing.
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8/10
Making sublime creations
aharmas6 October 2010
I'm always grateful that independent filmmakers have the guts to take us on rides through worlds we'd be otherwise unaware of. Paris is already famous for its exquisite architecture and cuisine; yet there are still unexplored areas, full of drama and beauty. These are places where passion overtakes reason and when the rights elements are ready to be channeled in the right direction, something sublime happens.

The film follows a trio of pastry chefs and the travails they endure to attain one of the highest honors in France. They drive themselves to the edge of emotional breakdowns, and though briefly discussed, transfer this tension to their immediate family members. The documentary shows how they experiment, venture, and produce some spectacular confections, only to dismiss them, run into unexpected obstacles, and some cruel twists of fate. Something the film fails to capture is what really exists at the core of the individual who eventually achieves greatness: that special quality that separates the winners from the rest of a very talented bunch.

There are plenty of mind blowing designs, shots of endless moments of frustration, and somehow, the final ten minutes of the film don't quite make us gasp. The celebration is in front of our eyes, and we are left wondering why is it that they managed to cross the line, where the unlucky thirteen are left behind. The president of the jury utters a line to honor the unbelievable talents of the entire group, so we know it's close, and yet, he also is very specific about "being ready" to receive the honor, and it's that elusive quality that we somehow miss.

It's a bit frustrating that someone who sets out to capture the beauty of this world, manages to present those culinary masterpieces without the right lighting, leaving us a bit upset we can't truly appreciate the level of artistry in those rooms. The colors are not bright, the light a bit flat, and we are led to believe the amount of work can break your heart and spirit, but the end products are not displayed in a way that would make understand what separates this competition from the others.

It's an enjoyable work, one that should be reworked in a way that can deliver more of that quality that separates the pedestrian from the sublime, one that truly conveys the moment when man is capable of getting very close to the divine.
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5/10
... punch and pie.
perrineum27 May 2011
I just saw Kings of Pastry with a very emotive audience at the Brooklyn Museum, where the two directors were in attendance to answer a few questions. When asked about the production, Hegedus let slip that this was basically a "home movie" due to time and money constraints. She did nearly all of the shooting herself, with the help of apparently no one except that eccentric Pennebaker, and frankly it shows. Unflattering angles, odd compositions, bad lighting, and dirty lenses all give the video a very, shall we say, authentic look.

But we are able to look past all that since the subject is so interesting, and the tension is real. Though the video focuses on a French-born contestant living in Chicago, two other pastry chefs allowed their precious preparation time to be intruded upon by Pennebaker's camera. Of the three, Philippe Rigollot (which sounds like Philippe Funny in French!) was definitely the most absorbing. When he was a teenager, "school was a bit difficult... so I decided to be a pastry maker." One detail you might miss if you don't understand French is that many of these men who end up building $50,000 cakes for presidents didn't graduate high school. Many of these guys have been doing nothing but perfecting their trade since the age of 16. Their somewhat rough, unrefined manners contrasted with the daintiness of their product elicited a few guffaws (only among the francophones in the room). Even the head judge of the pastry Meilleurs Ouvriers de France had a distinctly "low class" accent.

Even though the title is Kings of Pastry, you might not even notice that you've seen much "pastry" per se. Most of the time is spent on the extravagant chocolate and candy sculptures that serve as a centerpiece. Since these delicate works of pop art are made almost entirely of sugar, a lot of the interest of the movie becomes seeing how successfully they transport these highly breakable objects from one room to another.

Which brings me back to my initial complaint about the production value. You can tell that these works of art are stunning, but the low lighting etc. results in crappy video that does not do justice to the work of these master chefs. These are some of the best chefs in the world, and the directors went all "Timmy's B-Day, 1996" on their asses.

Quel dommage.
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6/10
My 373rd Review: A light confectionery and a fascinating insight, but not a great documentary
intelearts26 February 2011
Kings of Pastry is an excellent choice for a documentary - the highest single award in French patisserie, the culinary Everest, the pinnacle of a career, the Olympic Gold for chocolate and sugar. And the skill is astonishing.

Its choice of soundtrack which is very Django and Hot Jazz 5 suits it well - this is a confectionery - a little too sweet, and not enough sweat - we see the huge effort in one sense that is required to become a MOF, but the film is so unobtrusive that it never really gets fully inside the world until the last 30 minutes. Without spoilers, there is an expected twist that lifts the whole documentary.

I would have liked some interviews with past MOFs, or some real detail of the secrets of the patisserie. The clip of French President, Sarkozy, praising the previous MOFs was telling, and something more was required to lift this from good to great.

All in all, pretty, light, and well made - but in the main lacks the depth that would take it from confectionery to main course....
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