Blow Out

I went over to the record store and looked through the bins of used Blu-ray discs.  I decided to buy “Harold and Maude” and “Help!”  On Wednesday at work, I got into a conversation about movies that were set in Philadelphia.  This reminded me of Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out,” and so I wanted to see it again.  Just like “Carrie,” it starts with a shower sequence.  John Travolta works as a sound effects man for a movie company, although I wasn’t sure why they would be located in Philadelphia.  While out one night recording sounds of the wind, he sees a car skid off a bridge into the creek below.  There are shades of Chappaquiddick in the incident, and later we see a Zapruder-like film of the accident.  John Travolta seemed like he was confident as an actor in this film.  I thought he was more interesting in this picture than he was in “Carrie” or “Saturday Night Fever.”  Nancy Allen was another person who was in the cast of “Carrie,” and she has some good scenes, particularly one with Dennis Franz.  It seemed that quite a bit of the movie didn’t make sense and was impossible.  Travolta cuts photos out of a magazine to create a film.  I thought the photos were on both sides of the pages, so that would be impossible unless he had two copies of the magazine.  I didn’t believe that Travolta’s character would not take into account the sweat on the cop’s body in setting up the wire.  People who are quiz kids or geniuses pride themselves in taking into account everything.  They would imagine what it’s like if they were the one to wear the wire.  However, the incident was supposed to have been taken from “Prince of the City.”  I think that De Palma is always slightly off.  He doesn’t really understand people.  One annoying thing in the movie was that Nancy Allen’s character was too oblivious and dumb.  She was unaware of the danger she faces, and wasn’t at all skeptical about the man she was meeting at the end.  The pair of them were stupid for not suspecting that someone was listening in on their phone lines.  They should have gone straight to the television station with the evidence instead of waiting around for phone calls.  De Palma’s filmmaking skills were sharper than on his previous films.  I’m not sure he was ever this good again.  Vilmos Zsigmond was the cinematographer, and he certainly made great contributions.  John Lithgow was a killer whose presence on the screen was chilling.  If he was professional, though, he wouldn’t have made a mistake.  Travolta should have given better instructions to Nancy in that final meeting.  I don’t know why he would have trusted her with the film.  Somehow, I don’t know why he would use that sound effect at the end.  I thought it was supposed to be emotionally devastating.  It was amusing that he was using magnetic tape in the first place.  I’m not sure why Pauline Kael had such high praise for De Palma, whose work is usually full of flaws.  “Blow Out” has a lot of interesting qualities, but I wouldn’t say that it was a great movie.  One of the supplements was a Noah Baumbach interview with De Palma.  It was not quite like Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock.  I watched a bit of Satchel Paige and Lillian Gish on The Dick Cavett Show.  Some of the people who died on July 8 include Vivien Leigh (1967), James Franciscus (1991), Dick Sargent (1994), Pete Conrad (1999), Betty Ford (2011), Ernest Borgnine (2012), and Ken Stabler (2015).  Today is a birthday for Beck (46), Kevin Bacon (58), Anjelica Huston (65), and Wolfgang Puck (67).

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