Yet despite the transparently piecemeal setup and the visibility of filmmaking apparatuses throughout (the lead character, Jack, a sound recordist played by John Travolta, works for a Philadelphia-based B-movie production company), Blow Out is no mere mechanical thing.
De Palma manages to imbue the film with what's missing from many of his scuzz fests and Hitchcock remixes: real (paranoid) feeling. Jack eventually cobbles together a film mockup of the politician's demise by syncing his own audio recordings from the scene with a flipbook series of paparazzo shots he finds in a magazine. Jack's reel suggests the accident was not so accidental, and the evidence likewise must be painstakingly "produced." De Palma's nightmare here, underscored by the climactic Liberty Day fireworks backdrop, is of a country entirely in thrall to official-story dream factories.
Blow Out screens at BAM in its Hungarians in Hollywood series, itself a part of the yearlong Extremely Hungary extravaganza, as a representative work of Vilmos Zsigmond. His extraordinary cinematography here is most memorable for a 360-degree pan as Jack frantically rifles through his library of recordings, not to mention a number of deep-focus shots that put eavesdroppers in the same frame as the characters on whom they're eavesdropping. With De Palma favorite Dennis Franz as the scum of the earth and John Lithgow as a proto-Anton Chigurh.