Unfaithful readers may be surprised to hear that last night I willfully dove into the bottle with great good joy. My plan, if it can be legitimately named that, was to get pleasantly wasted and enjoy many cigarettes while bathing in the moonlight. The TV also happened to be on.
My Wife, in her wisdom, easily perceived my simpleminded intentions and so busied herself with her own activity (internet variety) while I slid into my drunken solitude. Peace and happiness reigned over all.
I peered into the TV screen and luck was mine. Wim Wenders “Wings of Desire” was just beginning on the satellite. Now, since moving to Japan, I normally abstain from films in languages other than Japanese or English due to the Babel-like confusion that generates in what passes for my brain whenever I hear a 3rd language being spoken- I spend approximately 70% of my time thinking in English so that I might come up with something intelligible to write, and the other 30% is wasted on trying to figure out what the fuck everyone is talking about so I am hesitant to add additions to the mix- but Wenders visuals immediately piqued my curiosity and, beside this, I’ve never before seen the film. So…..
I settled in……..sipped my drink…………..listened to German subtitled in Japanese………….the wife tapped her keys and peered into her own flowing electrons. Bliss!
The story is simple and brilliant. Shot in Berlin it tales the tale of angels who inhabit our world unseen, untouched yet attempting to comfort our human woes spiritually. The Angel Damien soon falls in love with a trapeze artist, Marion, and begins to yearn for a more earthly existence as my own personal Matrix began, at that point, to shift. Marion’s trapeze and rope act reminded me so powerfully of my genius ex-girlfriends’ performance art, who until that moment I believed was distinctly unique and who I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a decade, that I had the slightest of urges to find her and ask her fresh questions about the nature of her art. I refrained and, instead, got deeper into the film and drink.
Peter Falk - yes, that Peter Falk- appears in the film intermittently, playing himself and speaking English, and eventually it begins to dawn that his presence serves a purpose other than smiles. Damien, after giving up his Angelic existence to pursue his earthly love for Marion and being treated to an unceremonious conk on the skull as a reward, begins to wander the streets of Berlin searching for a prearranged meeting place with Marion. He is bleeding and ecstatic. He is alive and will one day die. He knows this.
Marion, despairing of finding him, leaves early as Damien arrives late. Damien stumbles across a film set where Falk is shooting and their eyes meet in recognition. He immediately realizes that Falk, like himself, is a former Angel who has given up the wings for more human delights. They speak to each other briefly through a fence. Falk explains his joy patiently, Damien listens anxiously. Falk is called away to the set and says goodbye. Damien, desperate, calls to him,
“Wait…Wait…..you were going to talk to me…..explain everything?”
Falk turns and smiles his beatific smile,
“That, you have to figure out for yourself…….but that’s the fun of it!”
Damien continues his search as I began mine.
We are approximately 103 mins. into the film and the Wife and I have not exchanged a word. This is by design.
Being wise far beyond her years she has always realized that when into meaningful drinking I am basically allergic to human communication and any pursuit of same will be met by grunts, growls or manful indifference, hence she sagely chooses to leave me to wallow in my drunken foolishness as she silently gets things done and any questions, requests, complaints or comments are almost always saved for a time when I can assemble a somewhat coherent response. I constantly marvel at the simple genius of her tolerance.
And so it hit me hard when, out of the bluest of left fields, she calmly and clearly asked me in the 104 min.,
“Do you like Nick Cave?”
I turn to look at her for the first time in 103 minutes.
“I’ve never heard his work or read his words.”
It was my only response and a damned honest one, so struck was I by her context less question.
It turns out that she was logged onto Mixi (the Japanese version of MySpace or Facebook or whatever the fuck network you people use) and was at that moment viewing a mutual friends’ (Daina- born in Japan, we met him in Chicago) page on which he had recently loaded a Nick Cave video, being quite the fan. The Wife contentedly clicked on the vid and ignored me. I happily went back to my 105 min.
At her finish the Wife closed the laptop and began to walk across the room to the kitchen. I stopped her in her tracks with these words.
“That’s Nick Cave.”
At that precise moment in the film, as Damien wanders the streets of Berlin and the Wife stood still next to me, he comes across a wall covered in posters for that nights’ Nick Cave performance in a nightclub. He enters, Marion is there. The Wife and I stared into the screen. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds do their thing. We enjoyed.
Please allow me to review.
I’m an American living in Japan watching a German film in German (with a little English) subtitled in Japanese while the Wife is simultaneously connected to an electronic world where she is linked to a Japanese friend who now lives on the other side of the planet which causes her to engage in the, heretofore, unheard of behavior of talking to me while I’m drinking about an obscure, if important, Rock singer who, also simultaneously, happens to be flashing on my TV with what is almost certainly his sole contribution to the history of cinema in that aforementioned German film(1987) now (2007) being played at midnight in Japan starring an American actor speaking in English and a trapeze artist who reminds me of one of my exes.
I took a good stiff pull on my drink.
I went to my balcony and lit one up.
After, beseeching the Wife for her counsel, I attempted to manhandle the unreality of this situation with my dull headed, masculine logic. It was like trying to pack water into a cardboard box with my bare hands. I was, and am confounded.
The Wife finally, lovingly, patiently regarded me and my confusion and said,
“Things like that happen all the time in this life.”
She smiled slyly and repaired to bed.
It was at that point that I realized I have never, ever kissed her enough.
I felt like a monkey in a tuxedo sitting in front of a piano.
When the movie ended the Wife was sleeping peacefully…………dreaming, I imagine.