Yet another year with yet another update.
2012 version can be found here.
2013 version can be found here.
A soundman accidentally records the evidence that proves a car "accident" was murder, and consequently finds himself in danger.
The works of Brian De Palma are cinema's comfort food, and Blow Out is the tastiest of all. Plus, it has John Travolta, and an ending for the ages.
I'm lowering the rating on this from my last viewing, but not because I enjoyed in any less. On the contrary: if anything I enjoyed it more with the benefit of hindsight and the ability to focus on particular elements of the film. Rather, I'm giving it a lower rating this time around because I can see where other audiences might not love it the way I do.
There are several aspects of the film which are pulpy or cheesy or even slightly thin or superficial. In particular, Nancy Allen's ditz of a character, John Lithgow's cartoonishly evil villain, and Pino Donaggio's lavishly bombastic soundtrack all feel like something out of a trashy slasher film. But for me, that's part…
"The bang was before the blowout."
A movie sound man stands on a bridge, recording the sounds of the night. He then hears something - a car. The vehicle comes into view as he witnesses it crashing off the road and into the small lake below. He quickly dives into the lake and manages to rescue a female passenger from the backseat. The driver, the governor of Philadelphia and a Presidential nominee, is dead.
The sound man, named Jack (Travolta), plays back his audio recording of the car crash and hears what seems to be a gunshot right before the car takes its plunge into the lake. Jack believes that the gunshot is what caused…
No one wants to know about conspiracy any more!
Oh, I beg to differ...
Actually, I was never a big fan of conspiracy films. I mean I like them, but it's not a sub-genre I was ever quick to hunt down.
I was never a big Travolta fan.
I was never a big De Palma fan.
Who knew that by putting them all together would make an instant favorite? I sure as hell didn't.
First, I gotta say, I'm with Quentin Tarantino on this one...why the hell did directors never use John Travolta to his full potential after this one? I mean, shit man. He's just incredible. Every one else is great too, but Travolta completely owns this show and…
Everything I wanted but didn't know. From the very first frame I was hooked. The film has the look and feel of something made in the 70's and I guess it's close enough.
I loved everything about it. The music is still playing in my head. It hits all the notes one could want. Dramatic, chilling, fun and beautiful when the scene calls for it. It really sells the deeper moments between Travolta and Allen - not that the actors don't do a good enough job selling it on their own. In fact, this is probably Travolta's finest performance. I'm with the guy all the way. And Nancy Allen is so sweet and endearing in this role. Normally her type…
Blow Up and The Conversation as filtered through Brian De Palma is actually a pretty good formula for a film. De Palma is a talented filmmaker who knows how to insert a little fun into his tense thrillers, and while there are moments when he lets his cheezy instincts get the better of him, there are also moments where that really works--see the later scene where John Travolta drives through the Liberty Day parade at full speed, for instance.
This film is full of great shots, but the one that stuck out most is the one where the prostitute is in the subway station bathroom, and the Liberty Bell strangler walks in. It's shot from above, with the prostitute in…
De Palma's form so thoroughly kicks the content's ass - a silly script that bottoms out in the ludicrous third act - that I view Blow Out as akin to a gourmet, Michelin-starred chef frittering away his talents whipping up culinary monstrosities at a Guy Fieri-style chain restaurant. The filmmaking prowess on display here belongs with anyone, anywhere: the way the coverage switches from extreme wides to extreme close-ups; Jack piecing together the accident in the sound room (an obvious ode to Antonioni, but still); Jack running in slow motion to save Sally, the parade marching on in the background, an orgasmic cornucopia of light, movement and sound. (He even shoots the hell out of the tacky horror movie Jack mixes at the beginning.) And can we start calling Vilmos Zsigmond one of the best DP's that ever lived? But shlock reigns supreme with DePalma, which tends to devalue a superlative formal control matched by very few other directors.
8/10: Suspense at its finest with this De Palma's masterpiece! His direction is visionary, with many unique and creative filming scenes/sequences. I can see why this is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorites.
With it's noise driven slasher beginnings it becomes clear that De Palma loves to play around with stylistic flare and a light B movie fun because he finds it interesting and entertaining. The cartoonish title credits are just so out of sync with their cheesiness as they crash together you have to wonder if the planned title was scrapped for the makeshift ones. As a fan of cheesy slashers and both The Conversation & Blow-up (seriously who isn't) I was pretty sure I was gonna enjoy the film from the bridge scene on. I did wonder how much I enjoyed the film for simple film geek-ery and how someone less geeked out would rate it.
He may be criticised by some…
Impressive effort from Brian De Palma starring a younger John Travolta. Until very recently I did not know this film existed, so it was a joy to sit down to something special. A real classic thriller here drenched in conspiracy with top performances from Nancy Allen and John Lithgow. There's a lot of symbolism at play and it is clear that De Palma is using this story to say something about America itself.
The movie starts with a long steadicam shot in a fake b-horror movie shot by Garret Brown. The first 5 minutes of this film alone is worth 5 stars.
Wish it had a couple shades more Antonioni ambiguity than Hitchcock slasher suspense + Lithgow's character seems to get so much screentime if only to mop up the convolutions of the plot, but man, everything else here is still an undeniable rip-roaring jam.
An excellent Brian De Palma film with a top performance from Travolta.
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 168/753
Another year, another update. 2012 List can be found here.
The following is a really extensive and great list of…