Last night I watched Diva for the first time in years and I remembered just how much I love it.
Diva (1981, directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix) was one of the first films I recorded onto VHS from the television.
I watched it over and over again all through one spring and summer as preparation for my French ‘A’ Level.
I watched it so many times that the tape eventually wore out and the ‘A’ Level examiner complimented my French teacher on my accent and command of Parisian slang. Last night I realised I can still quote reams of it from memory. “J’aime pas Beethoven …”
Based on a novella by Delacorta, Diva is a thriller and love story set in Paris. Full of morally ambiguous characters, it’s admittedly un peu pretentious — “he’s in his cool phase” — but it’s also gripping, moving and oh-so stylish. Who hasn’t watched it and dreamed of living in Gorodish’s loft?
Plus, it has a killer soundtrack, not least the overarching pieces from Catalani’s opera La Wally.
Falling in love with Diva again made me think about other films I rewatch regularly year-in, year-out. They may not be the best films ever made, and some have definitely aged better than others, but they each have a special place in my heart.
Here, in no particular order, are ten films I watch every year:
Mars Attacks! (1996, directed by Tim Burton) Why: The outrageous humour, the nods to classic sci-fi films, the cameos by Pierce Brosnan, SJP, Rod Steiger et al. Plus Tom Jones! In Vegas!
Excalibur (1981, directed by John Boorman) Why: Childhood holidays spent in County Wicklow.
Animal House (1978, directed by John Landis) Why: It’s why suburban English kids had toga parties when we were students.
The Princess Bride (1987, directed by Rob Reiner) Why: It’s the best film ever made about true love, fencing and magic.
Star Wars (1977, directed by George Lucas) Why: That first jump to hyperspace.
The Great Escape (1963, directed by John Sturges) Why: Memories of everyone gathered around the television set on Boxing Day.
Zulu (1964, directed by Cy Endfield) Why: Lush cinematography, “Men of Harlech”.
WALL-E (2008, directed by Andrew Stanton) Why: The astonishing animation, Hello, Dolly!, the raw emotions.
The Blues Brothers (1980, directed by John Landis) Why: Best. Soundtrack. Ever.
The Grass is Greener (1960, directed by Stanley Donen) Why: Great cast, great script, great costumes.