Monday, June 29, 2009

'Pressure Cooker' Boils at Belcourt's Food in Film Week

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:17 AM

If you missed the engaging doc Pressure Cooker during its hit appearance at this year's Nashville Film Festival, you'll get another chance when the Belcourt screens it tomorrow and Wednesday as part of its Food on Film Week. So far, response to the movies has been unusually strong, starting with the sold-out panel discussion Carrington moderated last Friday at the theater, and this film was included by programmer Toby Leonard as a kind of palate cleanser.

PRESSURE COOKER From Spellbound to Wordplay to The King of Kong, the competition doc has become as formulaic as Christopher Guest's mock-doc analogues. But the genre is practically foolproof, as directors Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman prove yet again in this irresistible underdog saga. Their subjects are inner-city Philadelphia high-school kids, drilled by their tough-loving instructor Wilma Stephenson to win a citywide cooking competition with life-or-death college scholarships at stake. Which means this isn't some frivolous Iron Chef face-off: Each plate holds a kid's future in the balance. Given a mighty boost by Prince Paul's hip-hop score, this is the rare doc that might actually benefit from the sprawl of the reality-show format--but that won't stop you from biting your nails when the group's most disadvantaged student hears her name called at the podium. JIM RIDLEY

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