Avengers: Endgame (Anthony and Joe Russo – 2019) A+

Yes, this deserves the top grade. It’s not a perfect movie but this is not about one “superhero” movie. This is about the emotional, fun, sad, amazing, spectacular last 10 years (or so) of my life that MCU made ever slightly better. The fact that they pulled it off with this so “right” capper is a wonderful improbability. At 3 hours and some, it takes us on a journey for those characters who I’ve known so well to try and fix what happened in the previous film. These do not feel like flat characters in fantasy movie but flawed interesting real people (and raccoons and green aliens, trees, and gods…). Is time travel involved? sure…Does it 100% make sense? Well, of course it does not. It does do that very well though and has fun with it. That time travel gives us some awesome and sweet character moments. Beyond the fights and CGI, this one paces slowly and give these people time to breath and interact. We get well executed and touching family moments. Each character has an arc that I will not go into but I loved all of them, from Thor’s to Cap to the one who started it all – Iron Man. When we hear those words, “I am Iron Man”, towards the end of the film it really hit home and underscored the long fun journey of this series.

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Bouchon: Salmon Tartar

Salmon Tartar7

A process more than a recipe.

I bought some really lovely salmon and decided to make tartar with some of it and had no intention of posting about it, but then I took some nice pictures and here we are recorded for posterity.

Salmon Fillet

Salmon Tartar

It’s based on the recipe from Thomas Kellers’ Bouchon cookbook, my reference for most things “French Bistro”. I have not tried a disappointing preparation from this book yet and I’ve tried many (quiche, Parisian gnocchi, Boeuf bourguignon, soups …)

Salmon-Chopped

The first step, chopping the fish is the most important and most time consuming of this whole simple dish. Chill the salmon, really well and then using a very sharp knife mince it by hand. This results in the best texture. Mincing it in a food processor is really not an option and will only make for a salmon paste. Not good for tartar.

Salmon Tartar2

Salmon Tartar3

I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper. Then tossed in some minced shallots, chives and mixed in a few drizzles of olive oil. I used a ring mold to plate the salmon in the middle of the plate.

Salmon Tartar6

Garnishes are strewn around made from hard-cooked eggs chopped very small, chives, red onions and capers.

Egg-Onion

A lightly whipped scoop of creme fraiche goes on top for a luxurious texture and a little acidic freshness. Lastly I squeezed a few drops of lemon juice all over the fish. We enjoyed it with toasted home-baked bread and a glass of white wine for a light satisfying lunch.

Salmon Tartar5

Us (Jordan Peele – 2019) B+

I had a great time with this one. It is tense, has a lot of grand ideas and the actors, especially Lupita Nyong’o, do an awesome job. For the same reason, those massive great ideas, I think the film is a bit confused with its plot an message. Some of the set pieces here, namely that “dance” sequence towards the end are nothing short of sublime. I loved that and will not soon forget it. I want to see more from Peele, he’s a very talented movie maker. I just hope he branches out beyond the horror/thriller genre because i think there’s a lot to offer there.

Searching (Aneesh Chaganty – 2018) B+

It’s one of those movies that i was immediately skeptical of. Mostly told via laptop screens, text messages, monitoring cameras, news broadcasts,…but it really captured my attention because it is well done, the characters are not dumb and I had no clue where it was going next.

Silence (Martin Scorsese – 2016) A-

Set in the 17th century Japan this is a horrifying and brutal film about faith. Two Jesuit priests go looking for a missing  mentor. He, along with many others, are missionaries trying to spread Catholicism in Japan.  Not an easy task and the response from the authorities there is very determined and violent. The two, played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, go on the terrible journey, smuggled in, hide for months on end protected by villagers who are “believers”. They witness first hand how strong these people’s faith is, they also experience betrayal and a whole lot of pain. Faith and religion change when they propagate and spread. They get hybridized and blended. One character named Kichijiro is a fascinating example of a Catholic who seems to have taken the power of confession to the extreme. How many times can one do horrible things, betray his people and then get the slate wiped clean by confession? Many times it seems. This is supposed to be based on a true story and is really one of Scorsese’s most personal films it feels. The struggle of balancing the guilt with faith and hoping that there is a God out there who is listening (in this case a Christian God) is a theme in his films. Here, it is front and center. It’s not a fun movie to watch but it is an excellent one.

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg – 1994) A

Yes, late to the party in recognizing how awesome this film is. I had never seen it for whatever reason. I suppose when it came out I was too young and dumb to watch a long long black and white movie. Glad I did now. It is a brilliant masterpiece. Schindler is one of those men (Liam Neeson) who can sell anything to anyone. He’s a business man and industrialist in Nazi Germany -by default a Nazi. His journey from a selfish sales person, making money, shmoozing to Nazi officers, building a fortune….is one hell of a story. He recognizes slowly that the horrible stuff happening to Jews and other minorities are on his hands too even if he never fires a weapon. What does one man do? Can he save some lives? one life, a thousand? or maybe many thousands? The atrocities shown are horrible here but there is also a the flip side of the good side of human nature. One man’s actions can make a big difference to generations. Beyond the story, this a beautifully shot film, with its slow pace and the very small use of color it haunts and persists.