Even if Marie Antoinette never said ‘Let them eat cake,’ she should’ve.
Documentaries that involve historical figures work better when made hundreds of years after the fact. Then legend takes over and makes their story palatable.
The appetites of Marie Antoinette and predecessor Sun King Louis XIV haunt “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles.” It was an era when chocolate, sugar and coffee and tea would become popularized beyond royalty.
After a brief history of pastries, the film follows renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he supervises and prepares exotic dessert items for a swank fest at the Metropolitan Museum of New York that emulates a fete worthy of the Versailles palace.
One of his colleagues Dinara Kaslo utilizes architectural design and 3D printing to make baked goods that resemble scale models of building more than cupcakes. There’s the logistics of constructing a working fountain of chocolate as well as creating an effervescent mousse without using fat.
When all is said and done the documentary becomes more than a celebration of a bunch of high society types pigging out on jello shots and confections. This doc wants to readjust the way we think about eating.
“Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles” is available on DVD from IFC Films.
“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” wants to be a cutting edge political thriller showcasing the physique of its star Michael B. Jordan. Yet the politics were old hat during the 1990s Jack Ryan films and the flick’s best scenes are copycat sequences from previous better films.
Jordan plays John Kelly (a character previously limned in Jack Ryan movies by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schriber). Recruited as part of an elite extraction team focused on capturing a Russian terrorist Kelly really wants revenge for his pregnant wife’s death. Director Stefano Sollima (“Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) wisely uses the action beats provided by screenwriters Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples.
“Without Remorse” is the kind of film that asks you to hold your breath as you try to match the underwater athleticism of Kelly.
One scene has water flowing into a crashed jetliner in a manner that recalls a similar crash in Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent,” a film that was made before Tom Clancy was born.
And more of a rip-off than an homage is a scene where Jordan splashes water on his half naked body and the floor of his cell to make the prison guards slip and slide as they prepare to burst through the door and attack him. That was done to perfection in the 2008 British film “Bronson” (directed by Nicolas Refn, with Tom Hardy as the greased prisoner).
With Jordan’s presence and an abundance of increasingly elaborate action set pieces “Without Remorse” will find a willing and supportive audience.
One can only wonder if the film had come out in theaters whether it’s hinted sequel would rise or fall on box office dollars rather than Amazon Prime programming slots.