April 10, 2017

"The strange and improbable tale of a Barack Obama impersonator who tries to cash in on the 'look of a lifetime.'"

That's the description at Amazon for the movie "Kings of Pastry" (click to enlarge and clarify):



I went to put that on my streaming-video "wish list" as I was reading a review of the documentary "Somm" (which we watched last night):
Even those who view high-end oenophilia as an elitist waste of money will have to marvel at the dedication of the four wine freaks in Somm, men intent on entering an exclusive club of sommeliers that to date has only admitted around 200 experts to its ranks. Jason Wise's doc is reminiscent of 2009's Kings of Pastry, which focused on a similar test for pastry chefs; but this film has broader commercial appeal, and should attract its share of gourmet viewers at the arthouse.
"Arthouse" is one of my favorite words, by the way. Demonstrating why, here I am in Austin, Texas, in 2007:

Arthouse/Althouse

The first comment at that old link asks: "Ann: You are so easily amused, would you consider yourself a low-maintenance date?"

Well, I was a low-maintenance date yesterday, as Meade and I ate Meade's special chili and streamed "Somm." It was a worth-watching documentary, and documentary is my favorite category of movie. As a person with almost no sense of smell, it's interesting/painful to encounter people engaged in the most difficult feats of smell. But it's not only the capacity to smell that these guys were tested on. Somehow they perceive — or imagine or purport to perceive — 10 or so smells in one glass of wine. They must also — quickly — translate the smells into words. It's a test of smell power and word power. And you need a vast background of real-world experience even to know what the things the wines smell like smell like — such as a grandmother's closet or a new and cut garden hose. Why would you cut your new hose? The answer seems to be: So you'll have one more point of comparison when you need to talk about how wine smells.

But, anyway, that's not going to work for me. I stopped to smell a magnolia flower yesterday and asked Meade, "Does it smell like anything?" I didn't mean did the magnolia smell like something else — a freshly opened can of tennis balls or whatever. I meant did it have any smell at all, because I smelled nothing. I assumed that if there was a smell, it was a magnolia smell, and I struggle to remember the particularity of flower smells.

I'm thinking "Kings of Pastry" will be better for me, because pastry has more of a textural component — creamy, crunchy, flaky, granular — and more of a visual component — which is kind of important in a movie:



Plus that movie was made by D.A. Pennebaker, who made 3 of my favorite movies "Don't Look Back," "Monterey Pop," and "The War Room."

And, come on Amazon, it's about pastry chefs taking a pastry-chef test, not about Barack Obama impersonator who tries to cash in. I'm thinking that's not somebody's idea of a joke, but just a misplaced description of an actual other documentary. Maybe it's "Bronx Obama"...



Ah, yes. Here's the long version at Amazon. I wonder how false Obama is doing now. And I wonder how the flowers smell, as the dawn breaks, and I'm up early and cracking the blog open one more time in Madison, Wisconsin.

21 comments:

AReasonableMan said...

One of the more reliable indicators on how poorly Trump is performing is the number of references to Obama on this blog.

David Begley said...

" I wonder how false Obama is doing now."

I wonder how real Obama is doing now. Hanging in the South Pacific with David Geffen and realizing that his entire Presidency is being dismantled and wondering when Susan Rice gets indicted. Susan ain't going to jail. She's the new John Dean.

Roughcoat said...

Nothing will happen to Obama and if he gets the bad rep he deserves for his presidency he'll just shrug it off and tell himself that whatever did go wrong was all someone else's fault.

Owen said...

Prof. A: love your blog. Thanks for cracking it open day after day.

I know something whereof you speak on anosmia. Yes, having to ask what things smell like is hard. A quiet steady pang of loss and a flattening of life's gifts. Nobody else notices. Not like being blind or deaf, but not entirely unlike. And since smell and memory are so tightly intertwined, remembrance grows harder as well.

David Begley said...

And it was AI that got those two movies mixed up. By the same people who are bringing you driverless cars.

cf said...

I am so glad you are in the world, Ann -- especially glad that Hand is Not plucking Your head off in the Austin photo -- and delighted you have gathered this latest Althouse Bouquet so early, it feels like it is just for me: I have a pre-dawn work start and yet you beat me & greet me with my first coffee, wahoo! (and Thanks.)

traditionalguy said...

Let it breathe. Then best served at room temperature.

Yesterday's finish to the Masters was a very emotional happening. Sadly, it is a whole year until the next one happens.

Today is a Gorsuch day.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

His movie Startup.com was great.

Sdv1949 said...

Real magnolias have a heavy, sweet smell. The northern poplar tree whose blossoms you were attracted to do not. :)

Owen said...

Traditionalguy: yes on the Masters finish. If that had been a script submission to Hollywood, it would have been bounced. Life is never so wildly improbable: two perfect approach shots at 18, two birdie putts blown? And then the tiebreaker hole with Sergio finally getting his jacket. Wonderful stuff.

rehajm said...

One of the points of wine education is the standardizing of the vocabulary used to describe it. Ann Noble has done much of the heavy lifting with the development of the Wine Aroma Wheel.

jaynie said...

I, also, enjoyed the documentary Somm. That movie opened up a world of new ideas and I adore documentaries about wine too, even though I rarely drink wine. Go figure.

If I may recommend another fantastic documentary, Steak (R)evolution. (I watched on Netflix, it is in French w English subtitles)

Absolutely riveting. Although this doc had non of the tightly organized nature of the movie, Somm, it is a terrific study of the French ideas on cooking beef and this one frenchman's take on steak, and the cattle breeds, as viewed by one man and his top choices in steak from around the world.

Now, I may not drink wine, but oh I do enjoy steak. I fell hopelessly love with the Italian guy at the end who chose his cattle completely unconventionally and whose big cows romped in his yard.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

Ann Althouse said...

I actually think the movie isn't that good. The 4 men who study for the test are just not that interesting. There's a whiff of interest in their relationship to their wife/girlfriend -- as they seem more perceptive about wine than real people -- but there's just not enough to edit into an interesting story. They are able to incant words about wine very quickly -- they sound like old-time auctioneers -- but they aren't spouting ideas from their heads that are engaging.

The movie takes no interest in stepping away and criticizing the enterprise of marketing this test and this diploma. Much money is raked in -- how much, how unscrupulous is this to string along young people who hope to leverage careers with a diploma? How accurate is the test? How much of the detail about wine is really anything at all? There's no intellectual curiosity displayed at all.

I don't know how much money the filmmakers had to spend, but what we see on screen is often glossily photographed glasses of wine shattering, which is somewhat artistic but irrelevant to the story.

Who funded the movie? It kind of works as an advertisement for the credentializing business.

DKWalser said...

So, according to Meade, did the magnolia blossoms smell like anything? You shouldn't leave us in suspense!

walter said...

Yes, there is...

Meade said...

"So, according to Meade, did the magnolia blossoms smell like anything?"

Magnolia × soulangeana — Region: Wisconsin, Eastern Ridges and Lowlands near Central Plain and Western Upland, near Driftless : White bud opening rose. Modern but equally sugary. Kicks you with notes of cardamom, clove, Dad's lawn fertilizer stored in corner of garage, strawberry jam that someone stuck their tiny fingers through the paraffin, lacking in character Fig Newton and a modicum of pineapple. Sniff now through April.

fivewheels said...

Don't feel bad about not being able to distinguish subtle scents in wine, Ann. Neither can snooty oenology students, future sommeliers who were given white wine dyed red and still described it using descriptors for reds, such as "jammy."



MayBee said...

Magnolia × soulangeana — Region: Wisconsin, Eastern Ridges and Lowlands near Central Plain and Western Upland, near Driftless : White bud opening rose. Modern but equally sugary. Kicks you with notes of cardamom, clove, Dad's lawn fertilizer stored in corner of garage, strawberry jam that someone stuck their tiny fingers through the paraffin, lacking in character Fig Newton and a modicum of pineapple. Sniff now through April.


Hahahahaha!

Rick Turley said...

Meade said...
"So, according to Meade, did the magnolia blossoms smell like anything?"

"Magnolia × soulangeana — Region: Wisconsin, Eastern Ridges and Lowlands near Central Plain and Western Upland, near Driftless : White bud opening rose. Modern but equally sugary. Kicks you with notes of cardamom, clove, Dad's lawn fertilizer stored in corner of garage, strawberry jam that someone stuck their tiny fingers through the paraffin, lacking in character Fig Newton and a modicum of pineapple. Sniff now through April."

Good one! Would love to see a blind sniffing test to see if anyone can tell the difference between the rose, white, and yellow varieties. Apparently few can for red and white wines.

rehajm said...

Neither can snooty oenology students, future sommeliers who were given white wine dyed red and still described it using descriptors for reds, such as "jammy."

1- Why would they limit the test to students instead of experienced tasters?

2- What kind of grape varieties were used for the 'white' wine dyed red? Grenache, Pinot Noir and many other grape varieties have red skins but the flesh and juice is white. Some of these varieties are used for production of both red and white wines. Descriptive language could certainly apply to both.

Leigh said...

Here's a pool for you to swim in -- if you're brave enough -- and the last thing you'll be pining for is the smell of chlorine. Well, unless the smell of chlorine is comforting ... then you might wish for it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4395260/Texas-block-glass-bottomed-rooftop-pool.html