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Blow Out: a sound effects artist records a car accident, but finds himself in danger as he tries to blow the top on a cover-up. This film is nothing short of a directorial masterclass: the visuals are filthy rich, with dozens of brilliantly filmed & striking scenes. De Palma is truly a master of ‘the shot’ as he effortlessly throws in a barrage of intricate, flashy, techniques: 360 spinning, dolly shots, split-screens, dual-focus, playing with depth of field & perspective… he has technical flare and style to burn here. Travolta matches this with an intense portrayal of an investigative man-on-the-edge. The music and sound effects are great, until the end when a cheesy score dominates the picture. The plot is good, and backstory perfectly stitched through the movie, My favourite aspect is the horror movie tropes being poked fun at through the sub-plot, particularly at the start: the opening film-in-a-film scene, and his previous movies named ‘Bloodbath’, ‘Bloodbath 2’, ‘Bad day at Blood Beach’, ‘Bordello of Blood’… Blow Out is a rare example of directorial technique, story, action, and acting being massaged together perfectly to create something powerful, dramatic and iconic – it’s enviable how good this movie is. I can’t wait to re-visit this already.

Score: 9/10

The Informant!: follows ADM executive Mark Whitacre, and his turbulent relationship with colleagues and the FBI during a global corporate price-fixing conspiracy. What hits you first is the lo-fi, softly lit yellow hue’d, old-skool, late 1960s TV aesthetic that dominates the style – no film has looked like this for decades, which makes it stand out. To match this there’s a snappy, finger clickin’ jazzy soundtrack with a hint of old spy movie about it – no coincidence there. Damon is superb as the conflicted lead in both his  performance and physical transformation – a tubbier frame, moustache and wig puts decades on him. The supporting cast are interesting choices given the number of out-and-out comedians giving restrained performances – but it works. The Informant! boils down to being a two-man show: one at each side of the camera lens. Soderbergh has taken a massive corporate crime story and turned it into a quirky little white-collar caper – and whilst it’s entertaining enough, the story would have had more impact as a flat-out documentary.

Score: 6/10