Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman – 1975) A-

A mouthful of a movie title and it is a wonder to watch if one is into watching long, meticulously scripted, low on plot (very low on plot) art house flicks. Due to its construction, it is easy to divide up into a couple of watching sessions. It chronicles a few days, and labels them, Day 2, Day 3 of the titular character. Living at this address in Brussels, it seems like a nice neighborhood and a decent place to live. She is a widow with a son in high school (or maybe college). That’s about it. We watch her doing chores, all her chores, in real time practically. She cooks, she shops for groceries, she cleans, she polishes her son’s shoes, she has sex every so often for money…She does have a few conversations with that son and they do go on walks every evening to somewhere. The conversations do not matter at all, they say nothing. We are here simply to observe. This is the ultimate dreary exercise in voyeurism on one hand and an unpolished look at a woman’s slice of life. It really lulled me into keeping up with it, appreciating the craft of the long single scripted takes until the shocking finale that came out of nowhere. This is one of those films that are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but it worked very well for me.

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Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer – 2018) B+

It’s the music, some of the music, that I sort of grew up with. I forgot how much Queen I listened to in high school. Those final 20 minutes as well were so darn good. Technically amazing and the performance of Rami Malek was excellent. Other than that it is a by the numbers movie, one that I quiet liked.

Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami – 1997) B+

He drives around the outskirts and slums of Teharn, Iran looking for a guy to help him out. At first the implication is that he is looking for sexual favors. At least that’s what it seems from the first conversation in his Range Rover with a worker. Then it becomes clearer what this sad man is looking for. He wants to commit suicide and is looking for someone to make sure he is buried. The film is a series of philosophical conversations, mostly in the Range Rover that he drives around and various men including a Seminarian, a soldier and a taxidermist. It’s droning at times as each conversation goes around the reasoning and morality of suicide. I did like some of the pace and the style of the back and forth between the characters.

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.

Bouchon: Salmon Tartar

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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.

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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.

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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.