"It is one of the best thrillers of recent years but, more than that, it is a brilliant film, a visual extravaganza that announces the considerable gifts of its young director, Jean-Jacques Beineix. He has made a film that is about many things, but I think the real subject of "DIVA" is the director's joy in making it. The movie is filled with so many small character touches, so many perfectly observed intimacies, so many visual inventions from the sly to the grand that the thriller plot is just a bonus. In a way, it doesn't really matter what this movie is about; Pauline Kael has compared Beineix to Orson Welles and, as Welles so often did, he has made a movie that is a feast to look at, regardless of its subject.
Diva is just that, though. As much as I enjoy the story, I find myself wanting to rewind the film several times just to relive specific visual moments over and over again, regardless of the rhythm of the film. The story can almost become negligible if you want it to, and there is enough visual lyricism to keep the audience engaged even as one forgets the verbal narrative (the first time I watched the film, it actually took me a little bit to realize that I didn't have the English subtitles on, as I was watching the dialogue rather than listening to it). Beyond any lengthy description of a thriller about a young man swooning over an Opera singer and some criminals looking for some tape with some conversation on it about something or something, the film is simply stunning looking, and is equally as stunning and fun to watch (I maintain that the latter often has nothing to do with the former). I also want to mention that the screenplay for Diva was co-written by Franco-Belgian comics writer Jean Van Hamme, and for all the dumb film or TV adaptations of his work that are out there, I like his comics, so that's pretty cool.
artists I admire.
Though it's easy to see how Godard's visual pinache could be a viable influence on the "cinema-to-be-seen", I feel like Truffaut was an equally dominant influence, and in particular his Antoine Doinel character. The blending of "high-culture" with pop culture was also a common theme of 'the look, and parallels can be seen between Antoine's love of classic French literature and Diva's protagonist, Jules, with his love of opera and "high class" friends he meets. Perhaps I'm seeing signs that I want to see, as Besson's Joan would say, but I feel like they're worth mentioning at least, as it's something that came to my mind as I watched these films (it's also maybe worth mentioning that I was familiar with the New Wave movement before I was truly aware of the Cinéma du look, so my parallels may have been drawn from my limited knowledge of what I was seeing at the time). It's also worth noticing that our aforementioned critic, Raphaël Bassan, was also a proponent of the New Wave and it's experiment in film, so perhaps the interest he found in the Cinéma du look movement was related in some way to what I also see as the natural progression of the avant-garde film evolution in France. Just saying.
I want to admit, lastly, that I am not incredibly familiar with Leos Carax's work. What I have seen I have found to be very much of the argument of style-over-substance, but a true watch of all of his films is more necessary for me to properly judge them, and I didn't want to just plow through them to make it in time for this post. Once I get around to it I will give him a more honest shot, and that might end up being sooner rather than later given my film habits lately. Also, I know there are quite a few films I glazed over or didn't mention at all; for instance, I didn't even mention The Moon In The Gutter (La lune dans le caniveau), and that is mostly because I wasn't particularly impressed with it. It never grabbed me the same way many of these other films did, and it's (I'm prettttty sure) entirely studio-shot visuals failed to excite me in the way that Diva, Betty Blue, and Le Grand Bleu did with their beautiful, on-location photography. Also, there are just some that I have never seen, and again, I would rather give them their proper chance rather than just watch them to watch them. The rest I just didn't feel like mentioning because, well, I don't know; I don't know what else to say about some of these films that haven't been said, and they mostly just didn't fit into the dialogue I wanted to present in this post.
version intégrale), which clocks in at a full hour longer than the film's theatrical release. I think it's a better film, and that's the one I feel is complete. It's also the version of the film I watched first, and the idea of watching the theatrical version at this point seems pointless to me.