Blow Out (1981)

Blow Out
Directed and written by Brian De Palma
(number 367)

John Travolta’s Jack is a movie sound technician who accidentally is on the scene of a car accident, and rescues a pretty girl. Of course it’s not just a car accident and there’s a lot more to the girl being in that car in the first place.

The movie is understandably concerned with sound, and the effects. The atmosphere music is actually pretty intrusive though. Most noticeably when Jack was convincing Sally to come home with him at the start of the film and she’s so drugged up she’s slurring words and can’t walk unassisted and the music is all romantic. That was pretty uncomfortable.

There’s a neat thing about this film’s use of media, there are lots of news casts for plot updates and Jack’s incredibly into the technology – using his film making equipment to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. His apartment is all full of recording stuff and his obsession with what happened on the bridge that night fuels more and more creative uses.

John Lithgow is a creepy freaking assassin guy, who is a creeper and I don’t like him.

Ben Franklin is a recurring image along with the Liberty Bell which is pretty expected for a film set in Philadelphia, but both images just keep on coming up. It’s pretty cleverly done, not a very obvious device as it could have been. But then the end of the film is so freaking ham fisted that I’m not sure it can be forgiven. I mean, a fight to the death in front of the american flag (projected on a screen) and Jack cradling Sally with the fireworks going off over him. Urgh.

And then the creepy, nihilistic true end when he takes the actual scream of the woman he loved and put it over a movie – well, at least he has the decency to cover his ears but… urgh. Nasty stuff.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah, I was on side with Jack straight away, and Sally as well. She’s pretty sassy and not afraid to put herself into danger.

Bechdel test: It almost kinda did, because there were women at the start who spoke to each other about something other than a man. But then they weren’t named, and it was a movie within a movie situation so, I dunno. No, that’s a no.

Best line:

Jack: I’m trying to save our asses!
Sally: I’ll look after my *own* ass, thank you.

State of Mind: It was stylish, but feel like the ending let it down some. Not even because of what happened but because of how it was filmed. Maybe I need to watch it again. I do know that reading Humans of New York while I watched this counteracted the depressing overtones.

Watched movie count

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