Criterion collection have often left us in need of smelling salts with their releases. Auteurs are often given weigh and respect. A rare treat for many to savour. Brian De Palma is such a treat and quite the auteur. His name has been written into many cinema student essay. Used to conjures up words that wet the imagination. Homages, obsessions, aesthetics, director signatures and so much more. However his later work is derided, a steady run of quality films, peaked with his Oscar winning THE UNTOUCHABLES. BLOW OUT however, for his fans, is his best. Its cohesive, coherent, dark and ends with a sour note, so real, that the audience feel reality alive and well. Mocking them from the screen with its angry, sardonic manner.

Jack (John Travolta) is in the movies. Well actually he is the man that records the sounds and designs their use in B grade slashers. When he is told to get newer sounds, as they have used the wind forever, he agrees. While recording though, he witnesses and records the audio a car suffers a blow out and then crashing into a nearby lake. Realising a woman called Sally (Nancy Allen) is in the car, he rescues her. All seems like a terrible accident until the cars driver is revealed to be a political candidate for president. Sally is shaken and asks to leave hospital, Jack is her only help. While she sleeps, he reviews the audio. Clearly he hears a gun shot. This leads to only one conclusion, assassination. As he investigates, conspiracy and murder await.

De Palma is somewhat of a hero for me. His filmography is unbalanced, his direction often heavy and his manner can be harsh. This all said, as the documentary DEPALMA proved, he is nothing, if not a cinephile. His love of cinema drips off the screen. His use of its tools are among the greatest in film and his films (which are often disconnected) always deliver emotively. Never should it be said that he or his films are not worthy of your time or your money.


Overseen by the great De Palma, the colouring is the key update here. I saw BLOWOUT on the cinema screen firstly and that spoiled me. Its various releases (DVD and Blu Ray) have always been good but had a little issue with discolouration. Arrows release far less, as I believe it was actually this release. However the Criterion super is a touch more classy. Also finally, we have a clarity on those raked focus, defused lens scenes. FINALLY!


Both Joy, over joyed and dismal in equal measure here. Joy can be found in the Murder à la Mod film from De Palma. Themes are pronounced. Direction is fluid and yes, the script is unbalanced. Over Joyed with Hour-long interview with director Noah Baumbach. Baumbach produced the above mentioned documentary and allowed De Palma room to discuss his films and style. Nancy Allen is far too short. Far to soft and needed an edge.

• Restored digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Brian De Palma, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• Hour-long interview with De Palma, conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach in 2010
• Interview with actor Nancy Allen from 2011
• De Palma’s 1967 feature Murder à la Mod
• Interview from 2011 with cameraman Garrett Brown on the Steadicam shots featured in the film within the film
• On-set photos by photographer Louis Goldman
• Original theatrical trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Sragow and Pauline Kael’s original New Yorker review

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