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Recent Headlines
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Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Friday, June 4, 2021
'A LOVE LETTER TO FILM'
CINENAUTS PODCAST DISCUSSES DE PALMA'S 'BLOW OUT'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowouthotelwindow45.jpg

The newest episode of the Cinenauts podcast features an in-depth discussion of Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Here's the episode decsription:
For their 31st mission, the Cinenauts are joined by special guest Jordan McGrath of the HIS FILM HER MOVIE podcast to discuss Brian DePalma's BLOW OUT starring the John Travolta! Also discussed in this episode: His Film Her Movie, Cruella and the Disney remakes, the underappreciation(?) of John Travolta and much more! Send us an email or voicemail at cinenautspod@gmail.com.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, May 17, 2021
TWEETS - BIG-SCREEN 'BLOW OUT' AT BFI SOUTHBANK
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetbfi1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, April 26, 2021
BFI CHIEF PICKS 'BLOW OUT' TO KICK OFF THEATRICAL
WILL INTRODUCE DE PALMA'S CLASSIC ON BIG SCREEN AT BFI SOUTHBANK, MAY 17 2021
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/dreampalace.jpg

Brian De Palma's Blow Out was hand-picked by BFI CEO Ben Roberts to open the "Dream Palace" program coming up at the British Film Institute's Southbank repertory cinema. Roberts will be there to introduce the film on May 17, 2021. Here's the program's introduction, written by Justin Johnson, Lead Programmer:
The pandemic has been traumatising on so many levels. One of the positives of the lockdown experience was a sense of communities supporting one another. We’ve been hearing from a rising tide of people who are missing going to the cinema, despite the speculative media narratives around whether or not the global pandemic would be the death of movie-going – something of a wearisome ‘old chestnut’ for some of us. It’s okay to love watching films at home, and thank goodness for streaming platforms – how would we have got through the pandemic without them? Being a movie-lover does not require us to enter a binary state that pits streamers against cinemas. BFI Player is full of amazing films and you can watch them all for a fiver a month. It’s not one or the other, it can be both, it can be all. Such was the sentiment around the inevitable impact of COVID-19 upon cinemas, that we witnessed a positive, heartfelt call to arms from the film community. Edgar Wright listed his 40 favourite cinema experiences for Empire magazine, and our own editorial campaign in Sight & Sound, ‘My Dream Palace’, celebrated the form and our venues. It’s a series of love letters to cinemas from an extraordinary cohort of cinema luminaries, designed to celebrate and ‘keep a light burning’ for cinemas while they’re closed. We all want to be back sitting in the dark together, feeling these stories become dreams on the big screen. We want to be back in our ‘safe harbours’, to borrow Mark Cousins’ phrase, and now we can be. The following is a selection of films chosen by participants of our Dream Palace campaign, and some BFI extended family. We asked people to select the film that they would most like to see at BFI Southbank – and what a selection it is! A wonderfully eclectic mix to look forward to. One thing’s for sure, they’re all going to be glorious to see on our dreamy big screens.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 25, 2021
TRAVOLTING PODCAST DISCUSSES 'BLOW OUT'
"Join Jeff, Stuart and special guest Mark Tilley as they discuss the complexities and the uniqueness of this film which was way ahead of its time."

Posted by Geoff at 12:37 AM CDT
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Friday, March 19, 2021
CONVERSING DETAILS IN 'BLOW OUT' & 'CUTTER'S WAY'
PATRICK PREZIOSI AT THE QUIETUS LINKS THE TWO FILMS AS THEY TURN 40 THIS YEAR
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutfilm2.jpg

"Brian De Palma’s Blow Out and Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way aren’t just predicated on the act of murder," Patrick Preziosi states in an article posted today at The Quietus. "Instead, both these 1981 films locate their cruxes at the precise moment in which a murder occurs or is discovered, as witnessed by the protagonists. Both directors cut to their characters’ faces, as if to say that they are just as much an audience to this specific event as you are to the very film. It’s a canny method to mount allegiance, and entirely successful. The reaction shot registers the stakes, and thus, the viewer is invited to do the same. The instances in question are initially enacted from within a bubble of upper-class impunity, and subsequently spill out unto those below. We’re not just identifying with a singular viewpoint, but one that’s tangled up in a morass of American-abetted apathy, a purview stoked by always looming inequity."

Here's more:

Neither film is in service of any sort of exclusive genre categorisation, their incisive political interrogations forwarded by the undergirding emphasis on the granular activities of their characters, which, among other things, offers up a wealth of moments wherein ranging emotions – fear, satisfaction, camaraderie, anxiety – are telegraphed by a simple shot of an actor’s face, taken in tandem with whatever else has transpired. An important motif, considering that Blow Out and Cutter’s Way are predicated on how much we trust our own senses, and how the unimpeachable qualities of our personal sight and hearing can be swiftly and ruthlessly denied by authoritative powers. Remaining content within an already skewed environment isn’t enough; one must commit to the final word of politicians, business executives, corporation heads and the like, even if they knowingly present zero verifiability.

Critic J. Hoberman brings the two films together with erudite concision in his book Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan (they also screened as a 2019 double feature at Film At Lincoln Center as part of a retrospective tailored to the release of Hoberman’s book), writing, “Both movies used patriotic displays as ironic backdrops. De Palma’s invented Liberty Day Jubilee conceals a brutal political killing, while San Barbara’s annual Old Spanish Days celebration is a cover-up for fat-cat malfeasance.” Similar points of origin in both films (someone saw/heard something they shouldn’t have) lead to similarly, unintentionally, tragic destinations as architected by America’s political rot. But Blow Out and Cutter’s Way are best viewed through the lens of a malleable relationship of conversing details, rather than two perfectly parallel narratives.

Blow Out’s ticking-clock drama is set in motion when John Travolta’s sound man, Jack Terry, inadvertently records a presidential hopeful’s Chappaquiddick-esque assassination (and rescues Nancy Allen’s Sally, the one-night companion of married politician and presidential-hopeful McRyan), whose status as nothing more than an accident he works to disprove. This ambition is emboldened by his superlative talents as a craftsman, as he is able to uncover the inconsistencies of the incident through the basest––and therefore, purest––filmmaking tools. Cutter’s Way is just as predicated on coincidence, but its tenor is one of disaffection, with Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) and Alex Cutter (John Heard) ultimately left unmoored in a climate where the rich enjoy the privilege of moneyed immunity, after the former thinks he’s spotted a prominent and powerful businessman at the site of a teenage girl’s vicious murder.

As Jack, Travolta is the disgraced wunderkind (a former technician for undercover sting operations to pinch corrupt cops, his own equipment’s inadequacy having led to the gruesome death of a participant), whiling away his time doing foley for crude slasher films, repeatedly reminded by his director that he’s smarter than what the immediate material demands. The film begins as a movie-within-the-movie, a steadicam-led, first-person POV of a killer’s journey through an all-girls’ dormitory, before the paltry shriek of a victim announces the jump to Blow Out itself. Suddenly transplanted to some cheaply appointed editing suite, Jack enacts the first of the many aforementioned reaction shots, one of giggly disbelief directed at what’s on the screen. In contrast to his prior wiseass behaviour, Jack flaunts an impressive focus when he’s out recording nighttime sounds on the Wissahickon Bridge, just southwest of downtown Philadelphia. He’s tuned-in, and his near-expressionless focus suggests a momentary communion with the surrounding nature – that is, until McRyan’s tire is shot out.

De Palma’s gamesmanship, both narrative and visual, is in crystalline form in Blow Out. His signature use of split-screen and split-diopters finds a simpatico partner in cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, the clean widescreen and long lenses often losing and once again finding characters within crowded spaces. De Palma had already flaunted such nimble camerawork in the museum sequence of 1980’s Dressed to Kill, but not yet with the sinuous unease that Blow Out maintains as its consistent tenor. The reaction shots lift Jack and Sally from their paranoia-laced circumstances, before plunging them back in once again, each time more violently than the last. Jack’s visage runs the gamut from righteous elation to gutted confusion, such as when he is able to assemble his own stop-motion recreation footage of the same incident, that when played with his audio, proves both aurally and visually it was no accident. This very tape is erased by John Lithgow’s trigger-happy hitman Burke, another stumbling block for Jack and Nancy. Later, when all three major players come (crash) together at the Liberty Day Jubilee, Pino Donaggio’s emotively gaudy score envelopes the scene – but only after Allen’s impossibly shattering, reverberating scream echoes – left are we only with the profound dread colouring our heroes’ faces.

The reductive line of comparison would posit that Cutter’s Way is the “muted”, character study equivalent of Blow Out, but this is only partly true. Passer’s film is merely bereft of De Palma’s pyrotechnics, its languorous progression symptomatic of its characters’ own nonexistent prospects. Blow Out interpolated Chappaquiddick and the Zapruder film, its totemic points of reference already burrowed in the minds of all Americans. Cutter’s Way is more uniformly assembled, awash in the miasmic fallout of the Vietnam War, evidenced by Jordan Cronenweth’s jaundiced cinematography (in a 2016 interview in Film Comment, Passer wittily offers: “Did you notice there’s no blue in Cutter’s Way?”), and embodied by John Heard’s paraplegic, one-eyed, amputee veteran, Alex Cutter.


Read the whole article at The Quietus.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 2, 2021
'BLOW OUT' #30 ON CRITICS POLL OF BEST '80s FILMS
'UNTOUCHABLES' & 'SCARFACE' IN TOP 100; 'BODY DOUBLE', 'CASUALTIES OF WAR', 'DRESSED TO KILL' AMONG INDIVIDUAL LISTS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutwindshield.jpg

Brian De Palma's Blow Out makes the top 30 of a new critics poll to determine the best films of the 1980s. The poll, conducted by Jordan Ruimy at World of Reel, asked participants "to submit their 10 best movies of the 1980s, unranked and without notes." Blow Out is ranked precisely at #30. Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing is ranked #1. Two more De Palma films from that decade made the top 100: The Untouchables tied for #74, and Scarface tied for #90.

Six of the seven films De Palma released in the 1980s were represented in the polled critics' individual lists. Our friend David Greven listed Blow Out and Casualties Of War at the top of his list. Blow Out showed up on 13 lists. The Untouchables was on five of the lists. Scarface, which showed up on four of the lists, was at the top of Uwe Boll's list. Body Double also made four of the lists, including that of Harry Knowles. Casualties Of War made two of the lists (Greven's and Michael Sragow's), while Dressed To Kill showed up on only one list: Chuck Wilson's. Wilson also had Blow Out on his alphabetical list, as did Peter Sobczynski.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 6:44 PM CST
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Thursday, February 18, 2021
BEAUTIFUL CONTRAST - BLOW OUT & THE CONVERSATION
BOTH FILMS MAKE TOM JOLLIFFE'S LIST OF TEN ESSENTIAL PARANOIA FILM AT FLICKERING MYTH
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jacknoirreadsmag.jpg

Last week at Flickering Myth, Tom Jolliffe posted his list of "ten essential paranoia films." The list includes The Conversation and Blow Out. Here's what he wrote about each one:
The Conversation

Possibly the greatest paranoia film ever. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful film sees Gene Hackman catch a suggestive conversation from two ‘targets’ he’s been asked to tap. A progressive trail of events unfold and Hackman, still haunted by the collateral damage from some of his previous jobs, believes he’s unwittingly put a young couple in danger.

The nefarious company Hackman deals with make vague threats when he questions them, and then his mental state begins to unravel. For a film that Coppola did as a kind of quickie between his two Godfather epics, The Conversation is stunningly crafted. The offsetting score really adds to this unsettling atmosphere. By the time Hackman has lost his marbles completely, and the film has ended brilliantly, you’ll be left stunned.

Blow Out

Back to a sound man finding himself drawn into a web of murder after recording more than he bargained for. Brian De Palma’s wonderful homage to vintage era Hitchcock (as well as no small nod to Antonioni’s Blow Up, and the aforementioned The Conversation) has everything you’d expect from his peak era work.

Travolta probably gives his best performance. Given how huge a fan Tarantino is of this film in particularly, and the surprising choice to cast Travolta in Pulp Fiction back in the day, it’s likely his work in this contributed heavily to why he ended up dancing with Uma Thurman on screen in 94. Travolta and fellow Carrie alumni, Nancy Allen are both excellent in this and the film is brilliantly shot and expertly paced. De Palma’s trademark style is in full effect, and completely effective for this kind of histrionic thriller. If Coppola dialled it all back for his thriller, De Palma keeps it all out and it contrasts beautifully with The Conversation (rather than battling it for supremacy).


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2021 8:16 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
MYSTERIOUS WHISPER
"I'LL THINK ABOUT IT"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutwhisper1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 11:34 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 4, 2020
VULTURE'S 15 ESSENTIAL CONSPIRACY THRILLERS
INCLUDES 'BLOW OUT', 'MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE', 'THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR', 'WINTER KILLS', ETC., ETC.
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/libertybellstrangler2.jpg

Yesterday at Vulture, Keith Phipps chose "15 Essential Conspiracy Theory Movies" to write about:
"In his essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” historian Richard Hofstadter identified a “sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy” that served as a recurring pattern in American history (though not exclusively in American history). Writing in 1964, Hofstadter connected the dots between eruptions of panic about the Illuminati and Freemasonry through anti-Catholic conspiracy theories up to the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era. Writing today, Hofstadter would have have little trouble extending that line, from the Kennedy assassination theories that started to crop up immediately after the president’s death the previous November through internet-fueled conspiratorial thinking that has become a prominent part of the 2020 presidential election thanks to QAnon.

Movies have had a complex relationship with conspiracy theories. Misleading — and often outright false — documentaries have been used to push everything from 9/11 conspiracy theories to COVID-19 disinformation to alleged UFO cover-ups to whatever nonsense Dinesh D’Souza is trying to push on any given day. Yet the same elements that can make for irresponsible journalism — and conspiracy theories have a tendency to fall apart upon close examination — can prove irresistible to storytellers. The sense that we live in a world filled with dark forces and sinister plots can be queasily intoxicating. (And for this list we’ve kept the focus on conspiracy theory movies with political implications. You won’t find Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for instance, even though it feeds off the paranoid mood of the era, or stories of corporate conspiracies, real or fictional, like The Insider and Michael Clayton.)

What might not literally be accurate can still be metaphorically true. Here’s Hofstadter again: “Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content.” In the right hands, conspiracy theory–inspired movies tap into a deeper sense of unease and distrust. They can also feed into it. Would our distrust of the government have deepened quite as intensely after Watergate were it not for the Watergate-inspired films that followed it? We may never know. But we can explore the question via some compelling films inspired by the deepest, darkest pockets of political discourse.


Following that introduction, Phipps presents a ranked list of 15 conspiracy theory films, with Blow Out at number 5. "A riff on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup that finds a murder hidden within sounds rather than images, Blow Out casts John Travolta as Jack Terry, a sound technician working for a grubby Philadelphia film producer. While recording some atmospheric noise he witnesses, and records, a presidential hopeful’s fatal car accident, an event Jack comes to suspect is actually an assassination. Propulsively directed by Brian De Palma, Blow Out combines elements of the Kennedy assassination, the Chappaquiddick incident, and post-Watergate paranoia into a potent mystery that suggests even a serial killer’s seemingly random acts of violence might be part of larger plot, building to a climax that’s almost nightmarish in its despair."

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 5, 2020 7:38 AM CST
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Sunday, October 11, 2020
THE RETRO CINEMA PODCAST LOVES 'BLOW OUT'
"MUST-SEE VIEWING FOR CINEPHILES"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/gidgittweet.jpg

On The Retro Cinema Podcast this week, Gidgit von LaRue and Angryman revisit Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Promoting the episode on Twitter, Gidgit posted a bit of trivia: "In the French version of the Brian De Palma movie Blow Out, John Travolta's voice was dubbed over by French actor Gerard Depardieu." She added, "This trivia & LOADS more in our 1981 movie podcast of Blow Out!" When someone responded that he didn't know that, Gidgit tweeted, "We search the depth of the films we podcast!"

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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