Blow Out [1981]

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Brian De Palma's 1981 thriller is something of a homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's masterful Blowup, though there are hints of Francis Ford Coppola's paranoia-inducing Conversation sprinkled throughout. John Travolta plays a sound-effects man who witnesses what appears to be a tragic car accident killing a presidential candidate. The audio tape he happened to be recording at that moment (adding to his collection of natural sounds), however, suggests but doesn't prove that a murderous conspiracy is afoot. Trying to tease a shred of evidence from murky doubt, Travolta's character turns to a hooker (Nancy Allen) for help and stumbles into a web of evil spun by a right-wing kook (John Lithgow). De Palma's fetishistic fascination with obscured truth in a universe ruled by chance makes Blow Out one of his most operatic films. It's also perhaps one of his most revealing about the inherent decadence of creating verisimilitude for art. Sometimes knocked for its outrageous camera technique, Blow Out contains several exciting sequences that underscore De Palma's amped-up admiration for many of Hitchcock's best moves. --Tom Keogh

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