Monday, 21 August 2006

Blow Out (1981) - ickleReview (video from TV)

Brian De Palma thriller starring John Travolta, who plays Jack Terry, a movie sound man who witnesses and records a car accident at night in which a wheel is shot and blown out (hence the title) and crashes off the road into the creek, killing the driver. Jack Terry dives in to save the other passenger. The driver turns out to be Governor McRyan, the presidential candidate; the other passenger, a girl called Sally, is a type of hooker/escort girl, whom the campaign team and police try to cover up to avoid embarrassing the governor's family. It turns out the "accident" was also caught on camera, so Jack Terry adds his sound to the film in an attempt to prove that it wasn't an accident, that the governor was murdered, to reveal the truth. He gets tangled up in a political conspiracy involving police corruption, endangering his own life and that of the girl, Sally, played by Nancy Allen.

This is a very stylish film, with nods to Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) in the comical slasher-movie opening sequence and Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) with the killer's-eye-view photography. It is very much about the making of films themselves: piecing together the soundtrack with the visuals, synching them up. Jack Terry recreates the film of the accident by animating still magazine photographs of it - translating back across media. The shots of the tape running through the machine and the gradual interpretation of the soundtrack are reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974).

Nugget: the last quarter of the movie gets a bit silly and implausible, slightly tainting the rest of the film. Overall, though, an enjoyable, clever romp, indebted to Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966).

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