Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Brian De Palma: Blow Out

I saw Brian De Palma's Blow Out Monday evening and liked it very much. It was at least fifteen years when I saw it for the last time (at least I don't remember seeing it) and didn't remember much of it. It's a tour de force in a technical sense, but it's also an exploding critique of masculinity. It's obvious that John Travolta doesn't really love Nancy Allen, he only sees a possibility to gain back his lost manhood and pride. He uses her and gets quite a punishment.

I wondered, though, why so many people laughed at the climax, when Travolta rushed to save Allen. De Palma uses slow motion, as he often does in climaxes, and I didn't see anything funny about that. Maybe it was Travolta. Well, they could've left out the falling snow from the scene in which Travolta listens to the tape he recorded while Allen was being strangled... The final scene is crushing and very ironic. No one laughed, even though there's also jokey feel to the scene.

Which goes to prove that De Palma is a master of irony.

Even though he's rather underappreciated at the moment. I wonder why. Someone might say that his career is uneven. Hey, whose isn't? I think that even in his worst films there's something interesting, even in Bonfire of the Vanities (I wrote a positive review of it when I hadn't yet heard that it was a box-office and critical failure everywhere else; haven't seen it since, so can't really say). The Mars film has some spectacular scenes and the opening shot of Snake Eyes is breath-taking. Along with Blow Out, my personal favourite would be Raising Cain, with very good overacting from John Lithgow. (I wrote somewhere that Lithgow is a better psycopath than Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, based on the De Palma film and Ricochet by Russell Mulcahy. Should see that again to verify. Maybe I wasn't thinking clearly.)

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