Review: “Kings of Pastry”

As Oscar weekend begins, it’s worth noting, as many bloggers like to do, how many great filmmakers have never won Academy Awards. Documentary legends Frederick Wiseman and DA Pennebaker are among them, and each released new films last year. But they were both considered “light” works for their talents. I nevertheless consider Wiseman’s “Boxing Gym” to be one of the best docs of 2010, while Pennabaker’s latest, “Kings of Pastry,” is definitely on the insubstantial side of his career. At 85 years old (you wouldn’t know it, if you’ve seen him in person recently), he’s at least still working. But I don’t think I’d recommend it to people who aren’t total foodies or Pennebaker fanatics, and even then it’s likely too unrecognizable in style to his direct-cinema classics that even devotees may be a little disappointed.

Penny seems mainly a co-director of the film (as IMDb credits him), somewhat secondary to wife Chris Hegedus, who can be heard a few times from behind the camera. The two were Oscar-nominated as a team back in 1994 for “The War Room” (screening on the Documentary Channel this weekend) and haven’t done a whole lot of major work together since — though Hegedus has done great, timely collaborations with other filmmakers, like “Startup.com” (co-directed by Jehane Noujaim) and “Al Franken: God Spoke” (co-directed by regular cinematographer Nick Doob), which I listed as one of the best of the 2000s. I guess it’s a shame she still hasn’t won an Oscar, as well.

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