Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Revenant

Leonardo DeCaprio just last night won a Best Actor SAG award for his portrayal of Hugh Glass, a Philadelphia born fur trapper.  The movie is based on the novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge penned by Michael Punke in 2002.  It loosely follows the trek of Glass over 3000 miles to find and kill the man who left him for dead after a grizzly attack.  I viewed the film yesterday with my trusty sidekick hubby, at my local Marcus Cinema.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. It is raw and it is real. It portrays life as it was for fur trappers in the early 1800s. In the film, Glass is hired by Captain Andrew Henry to trap for furs in the Northern area of the Louisana Purchase.  Glass has his son, Hawk, on this trip with him.  Hawk's mother is Arikara Indian and she is dead.  Glass is also serving as guide to the party, departing from Fort Kiowa.  When scouting for the party, he is mauled by a female grizzly after disturbing her cubs. He suffers catasrophic injuries from the encounter and is laying nearly dead when the party finds him. They load him on a makeshift stretcher and attempt to continue their trek.  When they are unable to pull him up a hill in a wooded area,  he is left with two of the men, Fitzgerald and Bridger, played by Tom Hardy and Will Poulter,  who volunteer to stay until he dies and give him a proper burial.  They are promised pay for their duty by Captain Henry.  Fitzgerald tries to smother Glass but Hawk witnesses this and intervenes.  Fitzgerald then kills Hawk while Glass helplessly looks on from his stretcher.   Some time after this, Fitzgerald lies to Bridger, telling him that he spotted Indians nearby and they need to leave Glass and run for their lives.  Fitzgerald drags Glass into a makeshift grave while Bridger looks on telling him, "This aint right, he's still breathin', he's alive."  No matter, Fitzgerald takes Glass' rifle, gives his knife to Bridger and off they go.  But, before Bridger leaves, struck with conscience, he lays his canteen down on Glass' chest in an attempt to leave him with some sustenance. Yep, that canteen shows up later, leading to eventual conviction.
The bulk of the movie tells the story of Glass surviving and making his way back to Fort Kiowa, to exact his revenge on Fitzgerald.  Along the way he meets Hikuc, a friendly Pawnee Indian who's village and family have been destroyed.  He gives care to Glass who is still recovering from his wounds and Glass tells him what has happened and that he is out for revenge.  Hikuc tells him he too has lost family but "revenge is in the hands of God."
There is an interwoven story line of Powaqa, an Indian woman who has been kidnapped by French trappers headed up by Toussaint, who is based on Toussaint Charbonnau, a real character in history.  He was a nasty man, whom I first read about in the story of Sacagawea.
Glass finally reaches the fort and tells all to Captain Henry.  Henry and Glass set out to find Fitzgerald, who hears that Glass has shown up, and runs.  He is tracked by Glass and Henry.  I won't spoil it by telling you more, except that when Glass finally has Fitzgerald in his hands he remembers, "revenge is in the hands of God."
This is an epic film with an epic performance by Leo.  I would say it is the performance of a lifetime for him. A good part of the movie is without dialogue due to the fact that we see Glass' lone struggle to stay alive and keep moving.  To give a performance that is manifested in facial expression and action takes a maturity that Leonardo has gained over the years and he pulls if off extremely well.
There are liberties taken with the historical account of Hugh Glass' experience, but we do that in the movies. It does not detract and few of us know the story as history anyway.
The screenplay was written by Alejandro Inarritu and Mark L. Smith and directed by Inarritu.  The cast was stellar with co-star Tom Hardy who can carry a movie on his own.
The cinematography was stunning with filming being done in 12 locations in three countries; United States, Canada and Argentina.  The scenes of the wild outdoors of snow and mountains and forests cannot be outdone.
I give The Revenant five stars and recommend you take it in!
Thanks so much for being here!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Michael Symon's 5 in 5 For Every Season

Michael has done it again!  This is his second 5 in 5 cookbook.  This one is 5 in 5 for every season, stressing the importance of cooking with what is in season in your part of the country.  The book is bright and beautiful with lots of color and his smiling face on the cover!  What else does an aspiring home cook need?!
It is well arranged with an easy to see contents page showing a section for each season, and one for holidays.  That is a bonus.  It is a nice size, easy to hold in your hand to read and the print size makes it easy to work from in the kitchen when you may be glancing at the recipe from a foot or two away at the counter.
The premise here is for the home cook to be able to make a good meal with five fresh ingredients that cook in about five minutes.  I will say here, the five minute part is five minutes of heat.  You still have prep to do before cooking; but he has made that as easy as can be also.
Michael includes a pantry section which outlines the items you need to keep on stock to help facilitate the five minute cook time.  He includes all things needed with complete lists for oils and vinegars, spices and seasonings, canned, bottled and boxed and  basics.  If you stock your pantry from his list, you will be well on your way to cooking every one of the 165 recipes in this book, in five!
I made four of the recipes to preview.  I chose the Fall and Winter seasons (basically the season we are in) and one from the Holiday section.  The first meal I made was Sirloin Steak with Onions.  Oh my, the onions were to die for!  These are not your basic steakhouse onions.  He caramelizes them with a mixture of vinegar, honey and brown sugar that takes the humble red onion to a new level.  The meal is completed with arugula on the side, dressed with a whisk of olive oil and lemon.  I tried the Autumn Panzanella, which is also known as Tuscan bread salad.  This was a mix of Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced fresh Brussels sprouts with cubes of baguette and chopped walnuts all tossed in a blend of vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil.  Delicious!  The Walnut Spread is a blend of toasted walnuts with roasted red peppers, lemon juice, honey and crushed red pepper flakes. You add that into your food processor and give it a whirl.  Turn it into a dish and sprinkle with some crumbled feta, put any cracker you want on the side and set it out.  Good stuff!   This was from the Holiday section.  I also made Spicy Beef Tacos.  This calls for a blend of seasonings in place of the store bought "taco seasoning."  Made with chipotle powder, cayenne, paprika and cumin seeds, it was spicy and satisfying.  The heat in this one sneaks up on you, so beware.
I love this book.  I will be making many more (if not all) of the recipes included here.  Michael's book reflects the whole food, clean living cooking style we are hearing a lot about lately.  Making the recipes in this book will give you a good start toward converting your kitchen (and diet?!) to a whole food kitchen.
I highly recommend you run right out and buy this!  It is a great book from a great chef.  I give 5 in 5 For Every Season five stars!  He is an Iron Chef, after all!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books,  in exchange for an honest review. These words are my opinion.
Thanks for reading!