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now that winter is upon us (in the north hemisphere)

Posted by Kelly 
Hello all,

Well, I've seen a few good movies lately, I thought that I'd send you the list. I use Netflix (streaming), but you may be able to find some of these at your local library and/or inter library loan as well. I suppose there is a thread which connects all these. Each focuses on groups or individuals who pursue their passions and skills toward the highest result that can be achieved. The last film probably has the most appeal for the BENners. I coped much of the text from the International Movie Database. All these are documentaries.

The Kings of Pastry - Mostly in French with English subtitles
The collar awarded to the winners of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. The 3-day competition includes everything from delicate chocolates to precarious six foot sugar sculptures and requires that the chefs have extraordinary skill, nerves of steel and luck. The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, founder of The French Pastry School in Chicago, as he returns to France to compete against 15 of France's leading pastry chefs. The filmmakers were given first time/exclusive access to this high-stakes drama of passion, sacrifice, disappointment and joy in the quest to have President Sarkozy declare them one of the best in France.

Jiro dreams of Sushi - mostly in Japanese with English subtitles
A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his business in the basement of a Tokyo office building, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.
My Comment - This film is best seen when one is in a contemplative or quiet mood perhaps with a sake, wine, or beer glass in hand. At first, the film moves rather slowly, and it is easy to be distracted at home rather than in the theater. Jiro is the chef perfecting his art. I envy the degree of control that he has in his daily quest. So few people have this.

El Bulli - Cooking in Progress - mostly in Catalan with English subtitles
My comments - the film follows about 9 months in the lives of the el Bulli executive chefs as they prepare (or over prepare) for the new season's menu. Any traditional or non-traditional kitchen or laboratory technique is possible. el Bulli was a 3 Michelin star restaurant near Barcelona which served 35 three-bite courses over 3 hours. The film has 3 segments: first slow experimentation phase, second menu planning phase, and third is the frenetic kitchen/restaurant training and opening phase. If you are not a interested in food or cooking, this might not be the movie for you.

Senna - in Portuguese, French, and English with English Subtitles. (2010)
A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.
My comments - The film makers document the beloved Brazilian's racing career and charming personality as well as his long standing rivalry with Alan Proust. While the cars are a secondary focus, the film does touch on the high number of driver deaths prior to 1994. (Happily, you will not see blood in this film.) After Senna, the F1 Association improved safety standards. The end is very sad; I almost cried. I enjoyed this film more than I expected that I would.

Let me know if you like these. Happy Autumn!

Cheers, Kelly
November 12, 2012 09:48AM
Senna - in Portuguese, French, and English with English Subtitles. (2010)
The end is very sad; I almost cried. I enjoyed this film more than I expected that I would.
I'm not ashamed to say I DID cry, even knowing how it ends (which of course most people do anyway)! That's how good this movie is. I've shown it to non-car people, and without exception they all liked this film, too, which surprised them. This is absolutely one of the best films I've seen in recent years, and in the running for one of the best racing films ever made. And of course to car geeks it's even better. :thumbup:

Here's the trailer:

I'm looking forward to checking out those others you mentioned, too.

'91 325iX
I enjoyed Senna too. It's a great movie. I haven't seen the others, but they look like they would be good.

November 13, 2012 10:48AM
"Senna" is a powerfully emotional movie. There's no denying that Senna was gifted. But I wasn't a fan.

I think there was quite an anti-Prost, compared to pro-Senna, bias shown in this movie.

There's very little doubt at all that Prost deliberately turned into the corner early to slam the door on Senna's banzai dive down the inside into the chicane at Suzuka in 1989. And there's no doubt that Senna then got screwed by Balestre when he was disqualified for short-cutting that chicane after the marshals push-started him following the collision with Prost. I hadn't seen any of those drivers' meeting videos before.

However, the movie sort of implies that this was the incident which started the feud between Prost and Senna, and that Prost and Balestre were the obvious villains whereas Senna was just an innocent victim. In fact the war between Prost and Senna began already long before the Suzuka chicane incident.

The movie really only touched on the bigger issue very briefly when they showed Senna being interviewed by Jackie Stewart, where Stewart asks about Senna's controversial overtaking manoeuvres many of which ended in crashes.

Senna had built a reputation of being reckless. That whole thing about him 'seeing God' scared the other drivers into thinking that Senna believed himself immune from harm. Whenever he saw an opening he would throw himself into it and then expect the other guy to avoid a crash. More often than not, the other guy would yield, otherwise they'd both crash.

Here's where the Prost/Senna feud really started, in the previous year, at Estoril Portugal in 1988. This wasn't mentioned in the movie.

- (Damn, that video has been taken down.) There's a very brief clip here instead:

Prost was quicker than Senna that weekend at Estoril, starting on pole position, with Senna 2nd. Already then the same issue existed that Senna would later complain about so bitterly at Suzuka the following yearr. The starting grid is staggered, with pole starting slightly ahead of 2nd place, etc. The pole sitter starts on the inside of the track giving him the inside line into the first corner. However, just like later at Suzuka, that puts the pole sitter over on the dusty unused half of the track with less grip, so in reality 2nd place is actually the better start position.

(This bit was shown in the deleted YouTube video) On the start at Estoril, predictably, Senna got a better launch. Prost moves over as soon as possible to get over to the better grip side of the track, but Senna is already up alongside. Note that Prost leaves him a constant car-width of room. Yes, he's crowding him as much as possible, but he's not swerving at him and he's not trying to run him off the track. They are pretty much even, neck-and-neck, heading to the first turn, but with Prost on the inside and thus presumably in control of the corner.

However, fearing a certain collision with his teammate, Prost once again backs out of it and lets Senna take the lead. But Prost was furious that Senna had essentially "stolen" his hard-earned pole position from him. This identical situation, with roles reversed, would be played out again at Suzuka two years later with dramatically different results.

Prost being quicker soon retook the lead, getting a good slipstream on Senna down the front straight. But Senna jammed Prost up against the pit wall. That was not merely crowding. You can see Senna watching Prost the whole time in his rearview mirror. He waits until Prost makes his move, then squeezes him right up against the pit wall, with several little swerves tossed in to deliberately intimidate him.

That was the final straw for Prost. From that day on it was outright war between them.

Up until this point Prost had always been the one to back off first to avoid a collision with Senna. But from then on he swore that, if ever again he found himself in a situation where Senna tried to force a pass on him, relying on intimidation to force an opening, Prost would never again be the first one to back down.

So the following year, at Suzuka 1989, with a championship on the line, when Senna made his banzai dive down the inside into the chicane, Prost said screw you. He was still well ahead turning into the corner. Senna's desperate pass attempt was never going to work, unless Prost gave ground (like Nannini later did).

Unfortunately Prost wasn't all that subtle about it. He clearly turned into the corner way too early, thereby forcing the collision with Senna. Still Prost got away with that scott-free, and it was Senna who was punished because nobody had any sympathy left for him with his dangerous attack-style of driving. It was unfair, yes, but he had it coming to him.

The following year, 1990, the tables were reversed. To secure the championship, Senna deliberately eliminated Prost in the very first corner at Suzuka. Yes, Senna got screwed, just like Prost did back in Estoril 1988 having to start from pole on the dusty side of the track. But he simply rammed Prost off the track. That payback move was even more blatantly obvious than Prost's move in the chicane the previous year.

Those incidents certainly did a lot to bring the sport into disrepute. Yet they were great for TV ratings. I think more than anything, such ruthless and dangerous driving behavior is the legacy left to F1 by Ayrton Senna.

Senna squeezing Prost into the pit wall at Estoril was relatively mild, compared to what is considered normal these days, but back in those days this sort of thing was simply not done in Formula One. Instead we now have up and coming young drivers emulating their fallen heroes, and modelling their aggressive driving styles on them.

That ultimately led to No.1 drivers in the team dictating to the team managers who could or could or not be accepted as the second driver on the team, thereby ensuring that the No.1 driver always gets preferential treatment and the No.2 driver can be depended upon, by contract, to move over and let the No.1 driver win. That, coupled with the outrageous swerving and blocking techniques subsequently perfected by "some" drivers (see Hungaroring 2010), is a big factor in why Michael Schumacher's name now features so prominently in the record books. I'm also not a fan of him.

F1 is clearly no longer a gentleman's sport, and I'm convinced that decline began in the era of Ayrton Senna.
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