Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: download

Film review — Le Mans ’66

Ford v Ferrari is not an inspiring title. It reduces the substance of this quasi-biopic to a mere clash between rival car brands, implying a corporate-driven monstrosity on par with, say, The Emoji Movie. If they’d used the title under which it was released over here, Le Mans ’66 – think French sophistication, retro chic, Steve McQueen and Paul fucking Newman – perhaps it would have fared better with those who’ve dismissed it out of hand. Turns out, it really is all about the image. More…


Film review — Doctor Sleep

Think of Doctor Sleep less as a sequel to an indelible Kubrick classic and more of an overzealous fan’s tribute to same. It’s got a different, lesser kind of obsessive attention to detail, with none of the aesthetic flair, and ultimately gets lost in the maze of its own references (not only to The Shining; the villains are straight out of Near Dark). But it also kind of works, if you treat it as a standalone piece with only a casual, if enthusiastic, connection to the original. Honestly, I’d mostly given up on Mike Flanagan — the good (Oculus, Before I Wake) is outweighed by the bad (Hush, Ouija, The Haunting of Hill House) — but this restores my faith a little. More…


Film review — Terminator: Dark Fate

I imagine a bunch of saddo men have moaned about the new Terminator requel (a new word I just made up*, a portmanteau of reboot and sequel) that it’s too political or feminist or whatever. Which is of course ignorant of the fact that the franchise is inherently political — Government contractors messing about with rogue AI? That’s politics, bozos! — and that since the second film, a woman kicking ass as much as if not more than the men has been kind of central to its thing. More…


Film review — Stoker

There’s a bit in this film where Mia Wasikowska’s character comes to a stunning realisation, and the camera tilts to bring a lampshade fixture on the wall behind into frame: a literal lightbulb moment. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run away to join the circus. More…


Film review — Demonlover

Watched this based on its thematic comparisons with Videodrome (it’s kind of that crossed with In the Company of Men, if you want my facile elevator pitch) and… nah, not my bag. Too long and meandering for an espionage thriller, not engaging enough to work as a mood piece — and then in its final few minutes it devolves into some kind of live-action video game, which was probably interpreted at the time as saying something about yadda yadda but it’s nothing more than a provocative stylistic wheeze. Blah. More…


Film review — It: Chapter Two

Three whole hours and they couldn’t even muster an ounce of the frights or the tension of its predecessor. Instead, they decided to make some kind of hamfisted tribute to Evil Dead II? I don’t get it. More…


Film review — Leviathan

There was something in the water, pardon the pun, with 1989’s proliferation of subaquatic thrillers: The Abyss, DeepStar Six and this here Leviathan, where the pitch is more or less ‘What if Alien, but like The Thing, at the bottom of the ocean?’ Sounds alright, but these people exercise such poor contamination protocol, they deserve everything they get, so the only thing left to root for is the monster. More…


Film review — Gemini Man

As rote as it gets for an action movie, sigh. I don’t even have any witty remarks about the high frame rate nonsense as it saw it in ’normal’ HD. More…


Film review — Rosemary’s Baby

It’s one of life’s great ironies that a film which ranks among the most affecting cinematic depictions of coercive control and emotional abuse was made by a man who later raped an underage girl and got away with it. More…


Film review — Paradise Alley

Sly was perhaps entitled to a little self-indulgence after the breakout success of Rocky, and the results very much betray the sense of a hungry talent desperate to get all his ideas on the page and on the screen. So, we get a schmaltzy period drama set in post-WWII Hell’s Kitchen, realised in all its ragged glory. And it’s kind of a mess of competing storylines, most of which are forgotten by the final reel, and with the main thread — the carny wrestling hustle that brings Stallone and his brothers the ticket out of the slums they so crave — not even getting out of the blocks until more than halfway in. But it’s clearly got heart, which counts for something. More…


Film review — Her Smell

If Vox Lux is ‘Lars von Trier does A Star Is Born’, then Her Smell, at least in its first half, is like Gaspar Noé having a go — if he were into stagey drama that’s over-enamoured with its own writing. More…


Film review — The King of Comedy

Robert De Niro blah blah blah — this picture really comes to life through Sandra Bernhard’s tangibly unhinged superfan. That more wasn’t made of her talent is an indictment of the era, I suppose. More…


Film review — Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Where action movies often go wrong is not that they try to do too much — that’s pretty much what we expect — but that they never know where to end. Hobbs and Shaw is case in point. It’s poor enough that this squanders the chemistry The Rock and Jason Statham have undeniably displayed in previous Fast and the Furious outings; but a story that drags on past the point of caring, while rendering too many of its probably-cool-on-paper set-pieces as Michael Bay-esque screen noise, just isn’t forgivable. Sometimes, even for a bombastic action film, less is more. More…


Film review — Wing Commander

OK so it’s bad. The plot is the epitome of derivative, the leads are poorly cast and directed, it looks decidedly ropey when its opts for CGI over practical effects. The aliens look pants and should’ve been scrapped. All of those things. But hear me out. More…


Film review — First Blood

A man looks forward to a reunion but immediately faces crushing disappointment. He’s needlessly criticised for his choice of clothes and hairstyle, and made to feel decidedly unwelcome when all he wants on a trying day is something to eat. Then the whole thing devolves into an argument, and by the end of the night he’s eating his roast alone in the dark … To hell with Die Hard, First Blood is a real Xmas movie. More…


Film review — Long Shot

A rom-com fairy tale for nerds, pretty much. It’s got heart, for sure. It’s also got some suspect politics, of all kinds. More…


Film review — Ma

By failing to make hay with its premise, and being just that bit too obvious about the stuff it does explore (the flashbacks especially, coming far too early and building a backstory the viewer doesn’t really need to know), Ma slips from a potentially top-tier thriller to merely an OK one. More…


Film review — The Secret Garden

So this one completely passed me by in 1993. I guess I wasn’t the target audience, and that year was all about Jurassic Park for me, but you’d think there’d be some lingering memory of its existence, at least, not least because I do remember the mid-70s BBC adaptation being repeated on children’s TV around that same vague time period. Anyway. More…


Film review — Figures in a Landscape

Figures in a Landscape takes an escape-pursuit story filled with thrills and bravery and derring-do and turns it into intimate, avant garde theatre, landing the viewer in the company of two utter reprobates (Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell in an early role) as they’re menaced by a black helicopter across anonymous mountain terrain. An outstanding experience, to say the least. More…


Film review — Destroyer

Well, it destroyed me. In all seriousness, kudos to Karyn Kusama for this devastating revenge drama that’s really only let down by the Nicole Kidman’s uncanny valley ageing makeup, and being about half an hour longer than the story required. More…


Film review — Happy Death Day 2U

As unnecessary as sequels get, especially one as overstuffed as this, and to a film among the best horrors of recent years. But it’s still an interesting experiment in turning a slasher film (albeit a very knowing, trope-upending one) with vague sci-fi trappings inside-out as a sci-fi adventure with occasional horror-thriller leanings. More…


Film review — The Ninth Configuration

It’s appropriate that I watched this one at Easter, not for the pat Messianic referencing but because it feels as hollow as a chocolate egg. Remember when eggs used to come with the treats inside them? Good times… More…


Film review — Rocky II

Essentially, Rocky II is the first movie rebooted for broader audience tastes. It’s no Evil Dead 2 in those stakes, mind. More…


Film review — Rocky

First time watching this all the way through, and I can see why it’s so well regarded. The grit and grime feel real, and Stallone treads a fine line between mild-mannered humility and ferocious determination like he’s rarely if ever done since. Shame about the dodgy sexual politics, though; even for the era it’s pretty rough. More…


Film review — Escape Room

‘The Crystal Maze, but evil’ is a money concept. Treading the same beats at Cube and Saw, but with more noxious moral and ethical politics? Not so much. More…


Film review — Twilight Zone: The Movie

Slighter than expected, to tell you the truth. Only Vic Morrow’s racist tirade at the very beginning packs any punch, and that perhaps has more to do with the degradation of contemporary discourse sharpening the cut of those words. More…


Film review — Dune

I’m surprised not to find a previous record of this one here, as I’m sure I’ve watched it within the last decade. But anyway, this was my first time with the Alan Smithee ‘extended cut’ and… yeah, I can see why David Lynch took his name off it. The extra hour adds nothing to improve the film, or make the story clearer. Indeed, with that hamfisted Frank Herbert voiceover intro it actively takes away from the theatrical cut’s unique ‘what the fuck is going on here’ quality. I don’t want to know about artificial intelligence or rebellions from generations before, I just want to be thrown head-first into its stately weirdness. It remains a triumph of production design, one of which everyone involved should be proud. How Lynch feels about it today is his prerogative, but it’s a shame there’s no love left there anymore. More…


Film review — Peppermint

Preposterous libertarian-fascist, right-wing vigilante fantasy that, given the Beijing production money, fits squarely into what I’d imagine are Chinese conceptions of American cultural imports. More…


Film review — The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

It’s tempting to compare Theranos to the Fyre Festival debacle, but we’re dealing with a different situation here, one where capitalist greed and general arsehole-iness doesn’t play the same kind of part. Whereas Billy McFarland was an ignorant grifter who knew his concept wouldn’t fly from the earliest stages but pursued it anyway (and the Instagram kids, being marks, fell for it), Elizabeth Holmes really does seem like she was inspired by the Edison lesson of faking it till she made it. She really did want to be a Steve Jobs-esque Silicon Valley pioneer and ‘disrupt’ the established infrastructure of blood testing. All she needed was that one breakthrough that would solve all her problems, as they continued to pile up and eventually avalanche on top of her. One can’t help but imagine that if she were a man, one who, say, blustered about fanciful transport tunnels or cave rescue robo-coffins with nowt to show for them, the big idea would still be a thing. More…


Film review — Lords of Chaos

Oh boy. Some people are going to absolutely hate this one. I, on the other hand, liked it a lot. Do not go into this expecting any kind of affectionate, reverential depiction of the origins of Norwegian black metal; this is very much a tragicomedy of more universal themes, taking great artistic licence with the true kvlt lives it depicts. The contrasts are jarring at first: the parodic tone of kids dressed in black, wailing in American-accented English about death (a deliberate aesthetic choice flying in the face of ‘the scene’ and its carefully cultivated self-seriousness), cut through with sudden, shocking violence in all its visceral verisimilitude. It could come off like it’s taking the piss. But if you know anything about black metal, you’ll be fully aware of its contrived artifice. It’s all kayfabe, just tag team wrestlers in facepaint. Except for the ones who believed their own hype, and took things too far. (Which is what some will accuse director Jonas Åkerlund, an original member of Bathory, of doing with this very film.) More…


Film review — Halloween

The rare ‘sequel/soft reboot that’s really a greatest hits compilation’ that manages to pull it off without succumbing to post-modern ironic detachment, though that’s arguably unavoidable in an age where even Scream would be considered a vintage movie (it was made almost a quarter of a century ago, after all). More…