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Diva

Wilhelmenia Fernandez , Frédéric Andréi , Jean-Jacques Beineix    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren't enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules's mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta's pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene. Watch it--and watch your back. --Ali Davis

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic April 20 2004
Format:DVD
Most films are produced by professional production houses and have elements of the formulaic. They are action thrillers, romances, horrors or mysteries. Production companies will use teams of writers a bank of directors and hire actors who have some star quality. Some films from production houses are good, most are mediocre and some are bombs. However most tend to be reasonably simple in construction and use the same tools of audience manipulation.
Diva is a film that is different from the main stream. It is in reality simply a mystery thriller with a well-written comic plot. From that point of view it can not be said to be an intellectual film it is very much a main stream production. However whilst not an intellectual film it is a intelligent film.
The plot is multi dimensional. A courier secretly tapes the performance of a reclusive opera star. The opera star has never allowed her work to be copied so that the tape is immensely valuable. At the same time a dying woman puts into the couriers bag a tape which holds the clue to a major corruption scandal. The film is about the pursuit of the courier by two lots of villains, one chasing the recording the others chasing the tape.
Introduced into the mix is the character of a detective figure who is unlike the conventional action hero as one can be. A character who is obsessed with a Zen like philosophy, who lives in a huge bar apartment and does incredibly complex jigsaw puzzles and who makes strange speeches on the art of buttering the baguette.
Rather than the film being powered by a simple plot each scene is carefully crafted both to develop the narrative of the film and also to illustrate the feel of the film and to define the characters. The opening scene is a glorious aria from the rather obscure opera La Wally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Conditional Raves June 14 2001
Format:DVD
Beware! There is an existing DVD copy of "Diva" out there which was released in the late 1990s. Although the film is great fun, the DVD fails at the most critical part: the sound quality is miserable. If this DVD is a newly-minted release of "Diva", then never mind my complaints, enjoy this excellent film. If it is just a re-release of the original DVD, then save your time and money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As wonderful now as it was then June 14 2004
Format:DVD
When I saw DIVA in the theaters, back in 1982, I knew I had witnessed something incredibly special. And for years it had kept a warm spot in my heart and mind. When I heard the DVD had been released, I was afraid of two things: 1) that the transfer would be a disaster and 2) the film would be terribly dated.
The not-so-good-news first: while superior to the earlier DVD release (which I had never seen, but heard about) the film suffers a little from some muddy sound, and at the worst times: during the operatic performances. Yet, the chase scenes have incredibly crisp sound. But I can't let that spoil the fact that the movie has held up incredibly well after 20+ years. While the fashions are of a by-gone era, everything else holds up perfectly. The plot, the direction, the performances are all as engaging as anything that's come out in recent years. Younger viewers may feel that this is a little old-fashioned, but I doubt it. This is a great film that has a little bit of everything: drama, love, comedy--and the strangest villains in cinema history! Give DIVA a chance.
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Format:DVD
Jean-Jacques Beineix's ultra-stylish adaptation of Delacorta's hip crime novel DIVA remains nearly as exciting twenty years later as it was when it came out. A bit of the sheen has come off simply because it was so stylish in terms of the moment it was made. Nonetheless, so many things in it stand out as brilliantly today as when it came out. The main chase scene with the protagonist fleeing the bad guys on his scooter remains as exciting today as ever. The movie is a blend of timeless and topical elements, and the latter have aged gracefully, while the former can hardly age at all.
The film is based loosely on a novel by Delacorta, who wrote a series of books centering on the adventures of Serge and Alba, the former being an exceptionally vague sort of crime solver, and the latter a beautiful and exceptionally young female companion. The movie pushes the two lead characters of the novel and makes them secondary to the plot, and takes the blonde young girl and makes her Asian. Beineix is less concerned with their story than with that of Jules, a young man who has made a surreptitious, high quality recording of a African American opera singer who refuses to be recorded for mass distribution. The plot revolves around his accidentally and unknowingly becoming involved (a la Hitchcock) with criminals, and being simultaneously being chased by them and by others who want his recording.
When DIVA came out, it seemed to be heralding the arrival of a major new directorial talent in Jean-Jacques Beineix. He followed DIVA with the beautiful to look at but overall quite disappointing THE MOON IN THE GUTTER. His subsequent output has also failed to fulfill the promise that DIVA seemed to announce. Be this as it may, it hardly undermines the brilliance of his debut effort. It remains one of the great thrillers of the past two decades, and as exciting today as ever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who stole the Diva's thunder? July 4 2003
Format:DVD
The release of this particular title on DVD was inevitable, and I for one am thankful they did it sooner rather than later. Not only is it a classic foreign film, but a classic French exercise in cine noir that I doubt will ever age very much.
I've never read the novel, and even though there's a bit of graininess on the digital transfer, "DIVA" has never sounded better; this is a film that's meant for surround sound. The subtitles on my edition aren't exactly what they should be, but they'll suffice.
There's enough artiness for the intelligentia, enough action for the restless, and enough style for the purists--but the editing is flawless, and it's one of the few films these days I can still stand to watch from beginning to end without having to flip through anything. Credit Beneix for a quality soundtrack, naturally.
He took a big swan dive into obscurity with "Le Matin", but this remains his major contribution to the world of cinema, and had New Line revamped it with a A-list actor and a $200 million dollar budget, they'd still get it wrong. A keeper.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This is a great French movie to watch. I find this movie most fun to watch. Hope there might be a blu-ray version.
Published 9 months ago by Kevin Barton
4.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential 80s French film-making,
In the same way 'The Breakfast Club' defined a certain kind of 1980s
US filmmaking, and 'Blow Up' defined 1960s hipness, 'Diva'
defined a certain kind of 1980s European... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2012 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Diva
Diva (Widescreen)

One of the best movies from the early 80's. This movie is filled with visual beauty and vivid colors. Read more
Published on July 5 2009 by Vanity Smurf
4.0 out of 5 stars My intro to french cinema
I first viewed this movie in the mid-late eighties as a impressionable, idealistic, young man. It was my first real foray into "foreign" film. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Visual Poem
Diva is poetically visual as it displays a cinematically stunning experience, which renders one speechless with its sublime cinematography. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars cult film - no question about it
Diva is very intriguing with it's two parallel plots. The first time I saw this movie I was a bit confused and to this day I wouldn't know how to properly categorize it. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by K. Wirsch
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm one of the few who didn't like the film.
Sorry, but I agree with the fellow who says that this film
is overrated. To those who love it, "I'm happy for you. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars super great!
awesome! so many twists and turns and SURPRISES. do not hesitate to watch this. it really is as good as it gets.
Published on Dec 23 2003 by selly b. righteous
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for the film
Here it is, 2003, and I still remember this film that I saw in Washington, D.C., in the early 80s. I am still haunted by the opera piece that Ms. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of cheap imitations
"Diva" is one of my very favorite movies -- I distinguish that term from "film." It has a wonderful combination of a suspenseful plot (based on a detective... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2003 by Amazon Customer
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