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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Direction alone doesn't make a movie for me. The plot might be decent for this movie but the story built around it is unbelievable and poorly written. The police work is abysmal in the story since they are supposed to be investigating the death of a governor, and future presidential candidate. The car he wrecks isn't even impounded or investigated the night of the crash, but is left unguarded in a garage. The governor is able to "slip out the back door" of a major event where he's supposed to speak without anyone noticing. The police don't know how to get material evidence from the film maker? They aren't suspicious of a man "happening" to be there when the car wrecks? They don't ask for proof he filmed anything else that night? They can't find him several days later? My brother once shot photos of a burning building, the police confiscated the film for an investigation and he never saw it again. Give me a break. The continuity errors are many and ridiculously obvious, but nobody here is bothered? How about the broad daylight dash through town in the Jeep by Travolta, ending well after dark only a few minutes after the crash? How about the sequence of colors flashing on Travolta's face as he is struck by another of his "wired" helpers dying? Have you ever been to fireworks that cast shadows and flashed in constant consistent sequence like that? It was hard to watch the film and stay with it due to the shabby acting of the fem-fatal as well. She was poorly cast and couldn't hold a candle to Travolta. How about the critical judgment errors of Travolta's character... he never gave the girl's name, never mind her number, to the TV guy, how would the TV guy have called her not knowing who she was? Ugh... with any real examination of the story, it crumbles like a fragile house of cards. This was a real waste of a Saturday night for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nineteen Eighty-One was an unusually good year for actors in leading
roles (look at my number of nominees) but sadly, some of the best
weren't even nominated. For example, my choice for Best Actor, John
Travolta gave arguably his best performance in Brian De Palma's great
film noir thriller Blow Out. Travolta took the role because he had
wanted a film that would focus on his acting rather than on his sex
appeal. So, he re-teamed with De Palma, who had previously directed him
in Carrie, and was even paired with the same co-star, Nancy Allen.
In Blow Out, Travolta plays Jack Terri, a skilled soundman who works on the fringes of the film industry providing sound effects for bad horror movies. This is the best work he can get because long ago, he worked for the police, wiring undercover officers for sting operations until one of his wire taps malfunctioned and got a man killed. Now, he puts his skills to work in the arena of Z-Grade slasher flicks the kind where sorority girls dance naked in their dorm rooms while a mad slasher stalks them with a butcher knife.
His destiny changes one night when he is out recording sounds for a movie. Standing on a foot bridge, near a road he witnesses a car have a blow out and careen through a guardrail and into the lake. He dives in to save the passengers and finds two people in the car, one is a man who is already dead and the other is a woman that he pulls to safety. Later, in the hospital, the police aggressively question him about the incident but they seem less interested in his facts than in pushing him toward the story they want him to tell. A government official tells him that the man in the car was a highly respected presidential candidate and the girl was part of a plot to blackmail him (comparisons to Chappaquiddick are inevitable).
Jack is told to keep quiet about the story and forget about the girl. He is warned that exposing the true facts about the accident would embarrass the man's family, but Jack suspects that a cover up may be at work. He meets the girl that he rescued, named Sally (Nancy Allen), a sweet but none-too-bright floozy and suspects that someone may try to kill her.
Despite advice to let the case go, Jack becomes obsessed, playing his tape over and over and thinks he hears a gunshot right before the crucial blow out. Later a sleazy photographer named Manny (Dennis Franz) comes forward with photographs that end up in Newsweek and, in a great scene, Jack cuts the photos out of the magazine and makes them into a flip-book that he films one frame at a time then adds his audio track over it. What develops is a perfect home movie (reminiscent of the Zapruder film) that clearly shows gunfire coming from the bushes on the other side of the road. He also comes to realize that the reason that Sally was in the car was due to a bizarre blackmail scheme.
The story, however, is much larger than Jack realizes. There are forces at work to keep Jack's tape from reaching the news. The worst is a slimy clean-up man named Burke (John Lithgow) who is killing prostitutes all over Philadelphia to plant hysteria over a serial killer in order to have a convenient cover when he eliminates Sally. Jack knows she is in danger but knows nothing about Burke, who has broken into his recording studio and erased all of his tapes but fortunately missed the crucial tape that Jack had hidden in the ceiling panel.
Jack meets a journalist who agrees to meet with him at a secret location to get the tape the only copy that he still has. Unfortunately, their conversation is overheard by Burke who has tapped Jack's phone. What happens next I must leave for you to discover except to say that the films third act is borne out of the story, out of the events that have come before and never feel forced or tacked on.
What Travolta creates in Jack Terri is a classic film noir hero, a guy who gets into a situation way over his head, tries to protect a doomed woman and won't take the good advice to leave well enough alone. Jack tries again and again to do the right thing, to correct an injustice but there are forces at work that want to prevent him from breaking the conspiracy. Buried under that urgency is, Jack's determination to keep from repeating his past mistakes. Years before, he failed to save an officer when his wire tap failed. Now, he tries to prevent Sally from falling into the same trap.
There's an effective moodiness to Travolta's performance, he isn't totally likable, but he isn't off-putting either. He is a guy haunted by personal demons and the urgency to do the right thing. He thinks that he is onto a simple cover-up, but discovers too late that the real story is larger than he had thought. His final moment is absolutely perfect, as he has finally found the perfect scream for his film, a scream that comes from real life. This expert sound man covers his ears and can listen no more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the version of an event that's reported in the media loses
credibility for any reason, cynicism, distrust and conspiracy theories
are bound to follow and it's within this climate that political
paranoia grows. In "Blow Out", after the death of a prominent
politician in a car crash, certain important facts are intentionally
withheld from the media, ostensibly to protect the man's family from
any unnecessary embarrassment. The problem is that, in doing this,
suspicion grows that there are far more sinister reasons why those
involved have an interest in suppressing the truth. One of the
strengths of this movie is the way in which the disturbing atmosphere
that's created by these types of practices, gradually grows and then
affects the perception of everything else that happens as the plot
Jack Terry (John Trevolta) is a sound technician who works for a company that produces low-budget horror movies. One night when he's out recording ambient sounds, he witnesses a car crash in which a vehicle veers off a bridge and falls into the river below. He swiftly leaps into the water and bravely rescues a young lady from the wreckage but is unable to help the driver who has already drowned. At the local hospital, where he and Sally Bedina (Nancy Allen) are treated, Jack is told that the man in the car was actually a leading Presidential candidate and he should forget about Sally's presence in the car for the benefit of everyone involved.
Soon after, Jack sees a TV news report about a photographer called Manny Karp (Dennis Franz) who was also at the scene of the "accident" and took a series of photographs that are subsequently reproduced in a popular magazine. When Jack synchronises his sound recordings with the series of photos to produce a mini-movie of the event, he becomes convinced that a gunshot was fired immediately before a tyre blew out and the crash was the result of an assassination rather than a simple accident.
Jack and Sally grow closer and she helps him in his efforts to prove that the crash wasn't an accident. The chances of Jack being successful are remote, however, because no-one believes his theory and there is little that one man can do to counteract the enormous power of the authorities that are involved in the cover-up.
John Trevolta is perfect as a good natured and sympathetic man who's also very intense and obsessive. His character is talented and slumming in his current job because he's consumed with guilt about an incident that happened when he was working for the police when an agent that he'd wired was killed. It's ironic, especially in view of his relationship with Sally, that at one point, he wires her for sound in a way that's reminiscent of the incident that had haunted him so badly over the years.
Sally's a hooker who'd worked extensively with Karp in the past to photograph men in compromising situations in order to blackmail them and Nancy Allen is good at conveying Sally's strange contradictions and complexities so convincingly. John Lithgow also impresses as a ruthless serial killer who's part of the conspiracy and has no compunction about killing innocent women simply to conceal his real motive for killing his prime targets.
Brian De Palma is a sensational director in every sense of the word and "Blow Out" features the split screens, tilted camera angles and overhead shots that are typical of his work as well as the more voyeuristic, exploitative and darkly humorous moments that he also favours so strongly. The ways in which the circumstances of the accident and the cover-up immediately evoke thoughts of Chappaquiddick and Watergate are very effective in generating audience suspicion whilst also dispensing with the need for any unnecessary exposition and the movie's downbeat ending is also mitigated to some extent by the distasteful but amusing way in which Jack gets the perfect scream he needs for his current production.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think this film is interesting because of two reasons.
First, this film has the two sides. One is thriller and another is romantic. Firstly, this film is mainly thriller. When a car is shot by someone and falls down the river, I felt a thrill. On the other hand, I found a romantic side. For example, when Sally faces a risk at the subway, Jack tries chasing her feverishly. The scene I like the best is that Jack holds his head when he hears Sally's scream in the last. Because of this scene, I can clearly understand his love for her. This film has two sides and so I think an audience can enjoy it very much.
Second, this film is like a Hitchcock's film. When we watch it, we have many questions in the former part. And at last, we can finally find the answer for almost everything. For example, in the film, Liberty Bell is a key point and in the middle part, man gazes at its board three times. We cannot understand why he does so but it is the important scene in this film. In addition to it, camera moving has a large effect. The most impressed scene is that camera moves in a circular motion. It shows us that the main character is shocked and in an absent sort of way. When I saw this scene, I felt sickly and covered my eyes. It means that I could feel the same thing he feels. This is exactly a remarkable attraction.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brian De Palma seems to be endless when it comes to original stories
and suspense and Blow Out is great example.
It's about a sound tech named Jack Terry (John Travolta) who is in Post-Production on a low budget film when he is told he needs the perfect sounding scream to finish the film. While recording sounds on a bridge, he see a car go off the road and into the nearby creek. After running to help, he discovers a dead man and a young woman named Sally (Nancy Allen) inside the wreckage and saves her life. When Jack listens to the audio tape he recorded, he hears what he thinks is the sound of a gunshot, that caused the accident and the tires to "Blow Out". Jack becomes convinced that it was an assassination attempt. He ends up bringing Sally into his own private investigation and together they end up on the run when they become part of a larger conspiracy to silence them both.
John Travolta's performance as Jack Terry is relentless in his pursuit to discover the truth in the story and Nancy Allen's performance, who plays another call girl, is equally strong and together they make a good relationship on screen. Brian De Palma wrote Blow Out like he did with his last film "Dressed to Kill" which relied on graphic violence, explicit nudity and shocking suspense. This film is much tamer and relies on suspenseful fun instead of shock effects.
The opening sequence of the film is really well done and flows well with the concept of the film. It gives you the idea that you're about to watch something different. The ending, however, is not what you expect but works well because of well done writing and story and it still makes you feel like you watched a good movie even if it the ending is hard to watch, to which it sort of is.
We also get to see John Lithgow as Burke, a serial killer who begins murdering women that look like Sally and they call him "the Liberty Bell Stranger". You wouldn't expect to see him in this kind of film, but he is there and he makes a good contribution to the film.
Blow Out is a another great film from Brian De Palma and is a really suspenseful driven story with great cinematography and a fun and interesting story.
While working late at night, movie sound recordist Jack Terry (John
Travolta) records a car crash that claims the life of a future
presidential candidate. After repeatedly playing back his tape, Jack is
convinced that the crash was not an accident and slowly unravels an
assassination conspiracy that puts his life in serious danger.
Although Blow Out shamelessly half-inches it's basic premise from Antonioni's Blow Up (albeit with a bit of Hitchcock-style suspense chucked in for good measure), the sheer level of skill demonstrated by director Brian De Palma is more than enough to make up for any lack of originality in the plot. From the wonderfully orchestrated and very amusing film-within-a-film opening (which mercilessly mocks the slasher genre), to the tense finalé that takes place amidst a blaze of fireworks, Blow Out is a master-class in movie-making, a breath-taking, meticulously planned and flawlessly executed audio visual treat bristling with innovative camera-work, incredible editing and creative lighting.
Star Travolta puts in a terrific central performance and is ably supported by the lovely Nancy Allen as Sally, the not-so-innocent girl he manages to save from the car, Dennis Franz as sleazeball-for-hire Manny Karp, and the sublimely creepy John Lithgow as Burke, the hired killer who enjoys his dastardly work just a little too much.
This is not so much a review as a commentary. The movie is campy, not as campy as Michael Caine in nurse drag campy though. DePalma is borrowing from Blowup (Antonioni) and Hitchcock. Now, Blowup, the Antonioni classic that features David Hemming as a well-known fashion glam photog who believes he discovers a murder while developing a roll of film of one of his shoots. This is a groovy movie with up and coming rock star cameos like Jeff Beck smashing a guitar, the Yardbirds, and cool posters of Dylan and Ziggy Stardust. Anyway, I digress. Travolta hears and discovers the sounds of a possible murder on audio, and Voila, DiPalma merges BlowUp with Blow Out. Now add Hitchcock for some voyeuristic effect and Troila. No spoilers just good summer camp and fun!
Blow Out is a stylish mystery thriller. Quite a typical De Palma
product. With some homage to B grade horrors, the story is very
gripping and young John Travolta also shows some impressive acting
Even with a fast-paced and complex enough screenplay, It is one of the film in which story is not a primary thing to consider about. The film tops when it comes to the style and technical aspects. I really enjoyed De Palma's direction and the way whole mystery was developed. Did not see any multidimensional characters or emotional touch (except towards the climax), but still movie's technical elements managed to make it shine. Since the film is all about sound effects, it is the most essential and impressive part of the film. Background score and sound have played a key part in its story as well. Apart from that the use of split frames was also impressive. It is visually sound too. The use of different colors and background shades give excellent effect. And the climax scenes were simply superb.
Talking about film's plot, I have to say after a strong start film weakens in the second half. The way it becomes a simple cat and mouse play was a bit let-down for me. Nancy Allen's acting wasn't up to the mark, though she looked really cute. However climax was effective and film's sound effects and visual beauty made me forget everything. Recommended.
A movie sound recordist (John Travolta) accidentally records the
evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and
consequently finds himself in danger.
First of all, I loved Travolta in this role and would have to rank it among his very best. Then, we find that Travolta lobbied De Palma to cast Nancy Allen for the role (as the three had previously worked together on "Carrie"). Good call. Allen is incredible and really nails this role.
On top of the obvious look at the making of movies from a darker angle, De Palma also revisits the theme of voyeurism, a recurring theme in much of his previous work (including "Sisters" and "Dressed to Kill"). This works for him and is much appreciated.
Travolta's obsessive reconstruction of a sound recording to uncover a possible murder recall both Michelangelo Antonioni's film "Blowup" and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation". Obviously the former inspired this film (which even borrows the title), and the latter is very much along the same lines. Who does it better: De Palma or Coppola?
Roger Ebert said the film "is inhabited by a real cinematic intelligence. The audience isn't condescended to... We share the excitement of figuring out how things develop and unfold, when so often the movies only need us as passive witnesses." Agreed, and well said. I never knew one minute to the next who was a good guy or bad guy and whether or not our heroes were safe... and that is a good film.
(Credit IMDb) This stylish Brian DePalma thriller plays off the theme
of the unsuspecting witness who discovers a crime and is thereby put in
grave danger, but with a novel twist. Jack is a sound-man who works on
"Grade-B" horror movies. Late one evening, he is "sampling" sounds for
use on his movies, when he hears something unexpected through his sound
equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the
media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a
nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy
enemies and expose the truth, he doesn't know who he can trust.
Blow Out was a movie I had searched for, for a long time, but never was able to find it. Thanks to downloading, I scooped it up, and was able to view it for the first time. What really impressed me most, as is with a lot of DePalma's works was the stylization. His directing style is nothing short of astounding. Some complain he used Hitchcock to ascend to the top of the Director's chair, but I feel DePalma plays tribute to him in my opinion. It has one of the most quintessential murder scenes in the history of thrillers at the start, it still remains chilling today. Blow Out's main success though is the maturity of Travolta, and his wonderful character development. I was with him the whole way. The finale itself is memorable. I won't spoil it, but you won't find a more impactive ending then that one. Only real complaint is the inconsistent pacing sometimes.
Performances. John Travolta is excellent as the lead. His sleazy, yet likable portray of Jack is not only memorable, but very interesting as well. Travolta is a man filled with charisma, but this remains one of his finest performances. Chemistry with Nancy Allen was solid to boot. Nancy Allen is decent in one of her early roles. Her character performs a good portrayal of her type, but she got a bit irritating at times. Dennis Franz can play these types roles in his sleep, but he's good at them. John Lithgow is chilling in his role. This guy can play a madman like no other, and I loved his performance.
Bottom line. I enjoyed Blowout very much overall. Couple of criticisms aside, it remains an essential viewing in the DePalma collection. Recommended
7 ½ /10
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