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I prepared the menu for the Thanksgiving Day dinner. Initially it included dishes such as Roasted Broccolini with Lemon and Parmesan and Vanilla Bean-Whipped Sweet Potatoes, but as I did shopping I changed the menu. After all I wanted to use the ingredients that looked fresh and good rather than strictly adhering to the menu. The following is my menu for this year’s Thanksgiving Day.

Turkey breast with vegetable stuffing and gravy
Port-Cranberry Sauce (It was quite easy to make this.)
Salad greens with heirloom tomatoes
Lemon Pepper Green Beans with toasted almond
Acorn squash with butter and maple syrup
Roasted Broccolini with Winey Mushroom
Butternut squash bisque
Pumpkin pie (readymade)

I think the dinner turned out well. After we enjoyed our Thanksgiving Day dinner we decided to go to see a movie as we have often done in the past. We were initially planning to see The Theory of Everything. But, here too we changed our initial plan to suit our ongoing situation. Since the last-minute phone calls with family members across the States lasted longer than expected, we ended up choosing a different movie to watch. We saw Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman. I really enjoyed the film mostly because of its meta-fictional elements.

Birdman was captivating from the beginning. It began with a shot of the back side of meditating half-naked, middle-aged man who had lost the attractiveness of youth. The most arresting aspect of this view was that he was not only meditating but also levitating. (Here due to my knowledge of the notorious Japanese cult group that caused the Tokyo subway terrorism I inadvertently recalled the shady guru of Aum Shinri-kyo [Aum Truth-Seekers] who was said to be able to levitate. But, I also knew that it was not meant to evoke the image of the guru.) This image of the levitating man underlined the film’s premise that it incorporated the subjective perspective.

The levitation suggests that this man had a super-natural power or that this man’s view of reality is not firmly grounded on earth. The low, somewhat threatening masculine voice that he seems to hear constantly was also only subjective, not heard by anybody else. This makes us, the viewers; wonder if this man is meant to be schizophrenic or merely intensely conscious of his inner voice. The camera work which was predominantly done by a hand-held camera stresses the intense subjective world of the man, who does not seem to have control over his life; his view of the world is closed in and shaky (the effect of the hand-held camera). Gradually we learn that this man is an aging movie star who used to play the superhero, Birdman. Now he wants to levy up his declining sense of self-worth by producing, starring and directing a stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s very short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” which is basically about the messiness of human emotions and relationships.

He wants to resuscitate his career and self-respect by putting up a play, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” The play’s title, as well as the early appearances of his resentful daughter and divorced but still friendly ex-wife, also underlines the major focus of the film: complexity of human love.

But, the trajectory of the entire plot seems to reveal another and perhaps more important focus (for the film-makers) of this film: the validation of film medium over stage work. True, the actors who are movie stars, such as the Birdman and the actress who plays his wife on the stage, seem to suffer from self-doubts and insecurities; but it is they that are noticed by the public but not the ballsy stage actor who seems to earn respect from other actors. And, to me one scene in the film clearly shows the moribund nature of serious plays: when the camera faces the audience of the Birdman’s play what we see is the sea of old people. (It certainly reveals a sad reality of serious plays in our contemporary world. Personally I hope the stage will be somehow rejuvenated so that it does not die. I can think of at least two ways to excite the young people: to hire movie stars to appear on the stage, and to make the theater tickets more affordable to young people. )

I am not sure if the filmmakers’ intention is just to validate the film medium over the stage, but, personally I renewed my interest in both film and live stage by watching this film: it had a great ensemble cast (Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, et al.) and the way it told the story sustained my interest throughout the film.

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