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Blow Out is such a playful movie. De Palma teases us all the way through the movie and wraps us up in conspiracy, paranoia and obsession that we forget about the sub plot in the movie that will intrinsically tie in to the main story come the final shot.
And what a final shot it is, incredibly twisted and morbid. The way in which Travolta's character uses the sound that will haunt him forever to satisfy his perfectionism in his job absolutely floors me. It's a glorious moment and easily one of the most memorable moments in any De Palma movie.
John Travolta gives a fine performance as Jack Terry, a man who becomes obsessed by the idea of conspiracy, convinced some one out there is trying to cover up the killing of a US senator primed to be the next President. The men behind the killing however have left some loose ends, mainly in the name of Nancy Allen's Sally.
Allen is a weak link in the movie, her performance renders her character as gullible and frankly gormless at times but in a strange way it seems to fit with the bad b-movies that Jack is working on so feels weirdly appropriate.
One of the most impressive aspects of the movie is the way in which Jack obsessively tries to match the sounds with the photography he obtains from the sleazy Manny. The constant adjustment and re-adjustment required to perfectly match the sound to the image only further highlights the obsession he has developed. It also highlights the terrific work that sound engineers do on film and the processes that they use to achieve some of the great work we hear.
The scene in which Jack witnesses and records the senators car crash into the lake is a perfect example of how sound effects are recorded and used to great effect, it's a glorious scene, directed brilliantly. These moments that focus on the sound recording mixed with conspiracy recall Coppola's The Conversation and seemingly later inspired the wonderful Berbarian Sound Studio.
Also of note is Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography. I am not usually a fan of his but with Blow Out he creates one of the best looking films of the 80's! Leagues ahead of his work on De Palma's Obsession, which was dull and drab and completely uninspired.
This is one of De Palma's finest hours and should be seen by anyone who loves cinema!