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Blow Out

Director/writer Brian De Palma's 1981 suspense movie Blow Out is a sleek and absorbing thriller with variations on films from Michelangelo Antonioni and Alfred Hitchcock. John Travolta stars as Jack Terri, a movie sound-effects man who accidentally records a car accident that results in the death of a political candidate. Nancy Allen is the chippy that Terri pulls from the car, but when the two are asked to keep quiet about the circumstances surrounding the crash Terri begins his own investigation to uncover the truth. By marrying his sound recording with confiscated film of the accident, Terri constructs a movie as evidence of the political assassination. But when he tries to convince the police of the cover-up he learns that "Nobody wants to know about a conspiracy." De Palma keeps one foot on the accelerator throughout Blow Up, building a pace that helps gloss over the minor plot holes while keeping the viewer engaged. The dazzling camera-work by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond is sometimes distracting — occasionally drawing attention to the filmmaking and away from the story — but always impressive. Although De Palma is dismissed by many as a Hitchcock wannabe, there is no denying he knows how to make a suspenseful film, and Blow Out serves as evidence of his talent. What helps to make this film so watchable is the rapidly unfolding storyline that dominates the film, allowing the actors to be characters and not movie stars. Travolta and Allen do good work here, and co-stars Dennis Franz as a sleazy photographer and John Lithgow in yet another psychotic-killer part both underplay their roles to fine effect. MGM's DVD of Blow Out presents the film in both anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan, with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—Kerry Fall

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