BLOW OUT (1981)

I watched this yesterday and I quite enjoyed it! Probably one of Brian De Palma's more compelling films, it is thrilling neo-noir film starring John Travolta as a film sound recordist. One night out recording sounds, Jack Terry accidentally records the sound of a terrible car crash that kills a presidential candidate. Jack is convinced that what he his sound recording proves this was no accident but instead an elaborate assassination set up to look like a car wreck. Jack saves a woman from the car, Sally, who ends up helping Jack--though rather reluctantly--solve the crime. John Lithgow also appears as a hitman out to eliminate the witnesses. From a thriller standpoint, it is quite good. Reminiscent of THE CONVERSATION (1974, Francis Ford Coppola) as well as BLOW-UP (1966, Michelangelo Antonioni), it follows a relatively lonely man on an obsessive quest to prove a truth through technological means. Like the these two other films, BLOW OUT's protagonist goes over and over and over his evidence, convincing himself that there is something else there, almost to the point where the original recording is rendered meaningless. I did enjoy this aspect of the film. I love that idea of having a piece of evidence and stripping it down and comparing to other details in the effort to make some sense out of it. In doing this De Palma invokes the process of filmmaking and editing. Editing is a process where one goes over a sequence dozens of times, even hundreds, attempting to glean to most meaning out of a scrap of film, or a series of shots. De Palma here is showing us this process, and Jack at one point even syncs up his sound recording to a series of photographers a second eye witness happened to shoot. From that standpoint, I found this fascinating. I think one negative point to mention is the Nancy Allen role, Sally. Her character is so un-compelling that I did not care about her in the least, and in fact most of the time found her annoying. And it made the fact that Travolta's character was interested in her even more annoying. That is a huge complaint I have about films: when two characters are only together because the script says so, and there is no chemistry whatsoever. But aside from that, BLOW OUT remains a interesting take on a neo-noir thriller through the eyes and ears of a filmmaker.


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