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


Tag: download

Film review — Don’t Fall in Love with Yourself

It’s only taken, what, 25 years until they started making professionally produced documentaries about the weirdo music I got into at the turn of the century. And honestly the music and aesthetic of The Locust (and this is mostly about The Locust, despite all the other things Justin Pearson has done) is still so impactful to my brain today; so anti-orthodox in terms of conception, and intimidatingly so. Thirty-second songs with herky-jerky rhythms and blast beats and screaming and synths? Still very much my shit. More…

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Film review — Even Hell Has Its Heroes

Less a documentary than an extended music video, an aesthetic exercise as meditative as Earth’s latter-day music. I’d love to know if it would convert anyone unfamiliar with Dylan Carlson and his musical exploits over the decades, because as much as I enjoyed it (especially when Adrienne Davies carefully considers her approach to drumming), overall it feels like a hibernaculum, opaque and impenetrable — but rewarding if you have managed to crack it open. More…

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Film review — Dario Argento: Panico

Here’s a strange one, mostly played straight — talking heads, clips from films and interviews, you know the score — but partly staged, like an attempt to underline the kayfabe of the documentary form but done as ham-fistedly as the director’s latter filmography. More…

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Film review — The Beekeeper

I have a lot of time for Jason Statham, as you’d know if you know me well, but this… I’m not convinced it wasn’t ‘written’ by a large language model. More…

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Film review — The Story of Microdisney: The Clock Comes Down the Stairs

Watching this really hammered home for me how much the story of Cork’s Microdisney mirrors that of Brisbane’s Go-Betweens. So of course it turns out they befriended each other in the 1980s London squat scene and remained somewhat close in the decades since. You wouldn’t know any of that from watching this documentary, mind, which feels like a glaring omission of context. But maybe you don’t need all the dots connected to see the picture for what it is. More…

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Film review — Albert Brooks: Defending My Life

Albert Brooks deserves better than this tribute to be sullied by so many unnecessary talking heads, a disconcerting number of whom have been cancelled (or as we used to say, rightfully ostracised for doing really shitty things). More…

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Film review — Rage of Honor

There’s a brief but stupendous sequence roughly halfway through this where a traditional Argentine dance is intercut with Sho Kosugi bashing henchmen’s faces in. I don’t expect high art from these things but that was remarkable (as is the main villain who looks like if René Aubergonois and Andrew Robinson got merged in a transporter accident) and I was disappointed it never returned to those heights, and indeed reached some dispiriting lows (at one point Sho massacres a bunch of Amazonian tribespeople who don’t appear to be baddies, just people defending their land?). More…

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Film review — Pray for Death

After a thrilling start, this one gets really bogged down in all that ‘story’ business when all we’re really here for is to see Sho Kosugi kick some ass. I guess he needs some motivation or whatever for the third-act revenge against the sociopathic mob killer Limehouse, and that’s a grisly, weapon-filled one definitely worth waiting for. Even Sho’s son Kane has a go at being a ninja James Bond with a gadget-rigged bicycle. More…

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Film review — Freelance

John Cena the Movie Star is pretty decent in small doses. Unfortunately he’s all over this piece of military-industrial complex propaganda in excelsis. Five stars if it were a satire, but I’m pretty sure they mean every bit of it. More…

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Film review — The Creator

Hard to watch this in November 2023 and not see parallels between its blatant orientalism and the othering that’s driven the Palestinian genocide. Though I admit I smirked at the bit when the evil empire rolls in with super-tanks replete with US Army logo in lowercase, because they’re nice and friendly guys, really, honest, just ignore the communities being crushed under the tank treads and the AI suicide bombers they use a few minutes later, nothing to see here, nosiree. More…

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Film review — The Hidden

Jack Sholder’s follow-up to Freddy’s Revenge is another possession story but one that’s mis-sold as a horror movie when it’s really 90% squib-heavy shoot-’em-up action thriller, with some breathtaking stunt work to boot. Kyle MacLachlan’s also great as the oddball sidekick to Michael Nouri’s gruff detective in an alien-human buddy-cop pairing that beat Alien Nation to cinemas by about a year. More…

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Film review — V/H/S/85

The second one of these I’ve really enjoyed. See? Horror can be good without being mean-spirited! Mike P Nelson’s two-parter is especially effective, and is probably about as long as it needs to be. More…

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Film review — Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story

It’s nice to get a glimpse of the man beyond his most iconic role, of course, but the best part is in the opening minutes where we get to see old photos of a young Robbie Englund hamming it up with his family and in early school theatre larks. Other than that it’s a fairly rote, superficial biography for a talent who really does deserve more. More…

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Film review — Death Machine

SFX guy Stephen Norrington gets in early on the ’90s cyberpunk trend with this dubious, tonally inconsistent mashup of Snow Crash, RoboCop, Aliens and Hardware but perhaps the worst of it is it’s two whole hours long and the thing that everybody’s here to see is in it for, what, five minutes tops? You’ve gotta give the people what they want, man. More…

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Film review — Blade Runner

The Final Cut again, this time at home in 4K. I probably should have noticed before now that Leon echoes Roy Batty’s famous “Time to die” line much earlier in the film. Anyway. Still love it. Its ambiguity remains its greatest strength. I’m increasingly convinced Ridley Scott didn’t understand what he was working with. More…

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Film review — Alice, Darling

I feel this is being mis-sold as a psychological drama as it’s not nearly as harrowing as the phrase implies. Anna Kendrick’s Alice, severely stressed by her manipulative partner, is whisked away to a lakeside house for a friend’s birthday weekend that turns into an intervention of sorts to rescue Alice from her abusive relationship. Theres’s certainly verisimilitude in the choice not to make the bad guy’s behaviour cartoonishly monstrous; he’s the kind of basic controlling arsehole, with that straight-out-of-the-misogynist’s-manual negging shit, that most women lured into such situations would recognise, so I expect that to resonate. But it makes for a film with little in the way of story or drama to sustain feature length. More…

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Film review — Infinity Pool

Baby Cronenberg’s most derivative flick yet. What if Sundown were crossed with Us, with a twist of A Serbian Film? The answer is this mess, I guess. Meanwhile, Mia Goth is well on the way to overexposure à la Freddy in the ’80s. More…

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Film review — Bodies Bodies Bodies

This would be a four-star movie if it had leaned right into the socio-cultural send-ups and dropped the pretensions of verisimilitude. As it is, it doesn’t quite work as either the horror or comedy part of ‘horror comedy’, so we’re left with a drama that’s more along the lines of what the kids today mean by that word. More…

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Film review — In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50

Despite what the opening on-screen text might lead you to believe, this is firmly for those who are already boned up on the story of King Crimson, its many faceted iterations and the legend of Robert Fripp. It doesn’t bother to explain such details as why KC transmogrified from flute-laden balladry to muscular hard rock to sinewy new wave to industrial-tinged metal, or extrapolate on the enmity between Fripp and the many, many other musicians who have created and performed with him under the moniker. It doesn’t tell us anything about why Fripp is so important within and without the band: there’s nothing about Bowie, Daryl Hall, Guitar Craft. But in fairness, what (former MTV Alternative Nation host) Toby Amies’ doc is about is in the title, no more and no less. More…

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Film review — Meet Me in the Bathroom

This is OK, I guess, but it’s up to Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to point out that the scene this ostensibly surveys was bigger than The Strokes and included plenty of popular-on-Pitchfork bands like Oneida and even outliers like Sightings and Black Dice, none of whom get a look-in here beyond a name on a flyer. More…

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Film review — White Noise

Netflix are making quite the name for themselves for big-name, medium-buzz winter holiday comedies that fall completely fucking flat. I have no time for tired social satire and even more so when it’s told with this kind of self-satisfied, forced whimsy. It gets two stars only because it commits to the bit, despite the bit being on the level of an average New Yorker cartoon. No I have not read the novel but I have read DeLillo and anyway the book is nearly 40 years old and when you take it out of that context without any real effort at recontextualisation, then what are we even doing here? More…

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Film review — F9

The self-referential nod-wink side-talk comes off as kind of smug, if I’m honest. Like, we’re nine films deep now and things got sillier than ’70s Bond a long time ago; it’s too late for breaking kayfabe now. Also, Letty shouldn’t have stuck her chopsticks in her ramen like that. Just saying. More…

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Film review — Yes, Madam!

It doesn’t hang around, does it? Nearly every scene has something to make you pop at either its ridiculousness or its astounding creativity. And it ends way harder than expected, to boot. I also note this was Michelle Yeoh’s third film and Cynthia Rothrock’s first yet both look like they’ve been doing it for years. Credit to all involved. More…

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Film review — Smile

This film has something interesting to say about society’s obsession with witnessing tragedy, and how we really view mental illness, beyond the platitudes and lip service, which is refreshing considering how the subject is normally treated. It’s also a story that struggles for a sensible ending, and that’s told via by-now well-worn horror mystery tropes, from the inverted aerial shots to the sympathetic cop to the copious jump scares, which I think does it a disservice, even if it evokes an effectively harrowing, skin-crawling mood. More…

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Film review — You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night

I appreciate the passion of a project like this, though that same passion is what persuades them to include every talking-head clip and non-sequitur anecdote they could get their hands on. I’m just saying, this could’ve been edited into a less meandering and far more engaging two hours, perhaps. More…

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Film review — Barbarian

It’s this close to saying something about the rot at the heart of the American dream. But it settles for being just a movie about an asshole who only looks sympathetic in light of someone far worse than him. More…

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Film review — V/H/S/99

Really enjoyed this one. It’s as uneven as any horror anthology but has a sense of fun (rather than revolting mean-spiritedness) that appeals to me. More…

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Film review — Matriarch

As a contemporary folk horror, it’s more effective than Alex Garland’s facile Men. But it’s still predicated on the notion of the child’s original debt to their parents. That cycle can be broken without the kind of sacrifice this story suggests. More…

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Film review — Hellraiser

It’s got all the issues inherent in trying to ‘elevate’ horror by trying to make it ‘about things’ in the most facile manner possible, but this Hellraiser reboot (and it is a reboot, as it reimagines enough to set it in a separate dimension from the 1987 original) has got another problem that’s more annoying to me. More…

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Film review — Orphan: First Kill

The prequel I can’t imagine anyone really wanted but is actually worth a gander, as it leans just on the right side of stupid to justify its existence. (Except for that parting shot. You know what I mean.) More…

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Film review — The Lost City

It’s a plastic pastiche of Romancing the Stone, weighed down by its compulsion for ironic detachment. But we knew all that. What I didn’t expect was more than one smug, vaguely mean-spirited linguistic gag, a flourish of self-satisfaction for a film that’s nowhere close to as amusing as it thinks it is. More…

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Film review — Uncharted

The combination of a fairly dull story, a miscast lead/sidekick pairing and that contemporary trend for wildly uncanny previz-dictated action set-pieces means this one washed right over me. More…

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Film review — Jurassic World Dominion

First off, half a star alone for the inclusion of practical effects, which make a world of difference. This seems a lot less silly when it’s being Indiana Jones with dinosaurs. It’s much less effective when it’s James Bond with dinosaurs, or wishing it were a kaiju flick. More…

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Film review — Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I’m not ready to see Prey just yet; needed to ramp myself up with something I could watch on 1.33x without losing a hint of thrill, and this one fit the bill quite nicely. As for actual critical thoughts? The lopsided plot really smacks of filmmaking by committee. You can have an escape-the-volcano heart-racer or a spooky mansion jump-scare-a-thon; you can’t have both and make it work. More…

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Film review — Deadly Friend

Wes Craven wanted Short Circuit, the studio wanted Re-Animator and the MPAA balked at the basketball to the face so we got…whatever this is. More…

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Film review — The Storms of Jeremy Thomas

The title suggests tumult when in actual fact it’s more like a soft day. Mark Cousins directs this docu based on his short time in the company of the arthouse-inclined film producer, someone he’s clearly enamoured with to the degree that he fails to get much out of him beyond confirming his own hagiographic biases. Thomas has an interesting story, and a remarkable oeuvre, yet Cousins seems more interested in inserting himself into the narrative and trying to dress it all up with an air of faux-profundity. “Pseudo-intellectual” isn’t the right term for it as Cousins knows his stuff, but the feeling that term provokes of being rubbed up the wrong way seems applicable here. More…

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Film review — Men

Alex Garland’s faux folk horror fails hard at attempting to graft its unsubtle text (“This is what men are like…but not me”) onto unsettling, even stomach-churning but insubstantial imagery. More…

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Film review — RRR

In the context of such OTT action set pieces, if anything the depictions of the British establishment here are underplayed; colonialists were every bit the callous sadists they’re made out to be and then some (the irony of one of them being portrayed by an Irish woman is not lost on me). More…

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Film review — The Art of Self-Defense

I admit I’m inclined to give this one a favourable hearing for the inclusion of not only Full of Hell but also Asterisk* on the soundtrack. But no, this extended absurdist sketch-comedy riff on Fight Club is very much Not For Me. More…

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Film review — The Sadness

If you’re going to be this kind of Category-3-on-overdrive calculatedly tasteless, maybe don’t try to be so grim and self-serious, yeah? More…

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Film review — Moonfall

An aggressively artificial un-spectacle, with added knob-polishing at the feet of Elon Musk and some suspiciously conspicuous product placement for that Russian anti-virus brand that was cool 20 years ago. But at least the pacing was half-decent. More…

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Film review — Sundown

Ironically enough, for a meandering film with such a threadbare story, it goes deeper as an essay on social class than the shock and awe of the writer/director’s prior, much-maligned New Order. More…

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