Blow Out Directed by: Brian De Palma Written by: Brian De Palma (screenplay) Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, and Dennis Franz
It’s sad that Blow Out, perhaps the finest film I’ve seen from the 1980s if not certainly one of the top five, is a forgotten relic of that decade. Director Brian De Palma is known more for 1983’s Scarface, which looks like child’s play compared to this masterpiece. John Travolta is known for fading into obscurity until Pulp Fiction, yet in this film he gives his greatest performance.
In a decade where the political propaganda of Top Gun and the teen angst of John Hughes’ films are the lasting impressions of American cinema, it’s easy to see how a film like Blow Out that uses a dominant color palette of red, white and blue in a story of political corruption and murder, would fade away. Thanks to those people at The Criterion Collection, it has resurfaced and been redistributed for the generation that missed it so they can get swept up in its mastery.
Due Date Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, & Todd Phillips Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakias, Michelle Monaghan, and Jamie Foxx
Watching Zach Galifianakias’ Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor, act out a scene given to him by Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.)with amateurism and then turn it into an emotionally-charged turn reminded me of Mulholland Dr. The comparisons with that 2001 masterpiece and this forgettable buddy comedy should end there, but they don’t. A lot of Todd Phillips’ latest is a hallucinatory road trip filled with drugs, car wrecks, and bizarre tonal changes. Take my advice, stick with David Lynch.
Phillips could’ve done anything after he sailed away with the box office last summer with The Hangover. Instead, he decided to recycle his use of Galifianakias as the awkward, sympathetic idiot and pair him with Robert Downey Jr for a road movie based on Plains, Trains and Automobiles. It’s an appealing match-up ripe with potential, almost none of which is utilized. The two actors at the center were almost given too much freedom to be themselves, letting their personalities fill in the (many) blanks the script left out both plot-wise and on the laughing front.