Kenneth Turan's critic's pick of the week: 'Kings of Pastry'
With the quality dramas that characterize the fall movie season starting to appear, its easy to forget the great documentaries currently on screen. Yes, make time for "The Town" and "The Social Network," but don't let the docs fall too far down on your list.
It would be a special shame to neglect "Kings of Pastry." Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, who did 1993's "The War Room" about Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, often make documentaries that feature involved, passionate individuals, but the competing French pastry chefs featured here take a back seat to no one in terms of dedication, focus and concentration.
The occasion for all this intensity is France's system of competitions to pick the best artisans in any number of areas, including pastry. The winners, who wear jaunty tri-colored collars that are so sacrosanct that impostors can be sent to prison, are designated as the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (the best craftsmen in France), known collectively as MOFs.
The competition for the pastry MOF takes place once every four years over three super-intense days. It's a merciless, nerve-wracking event that is an exam as well as a competition: Since the notion is to find people who uphold the standards of the profession, the judges select more than one winner.
When you do make time for this fine film, make sure you don't go on an empty stomach. These desserts are very serious business.
-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film
Photo: Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, a subject of the documentary movie "Kings of Pastry." Credit: Paul Strabbing