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


Tag: download

Film review — Antebellum

It’s one bravura visual sequence at the end, and written backwards from there, such that even The Village stands up to closer scrutiny. It does an unforgivable disservice to the message when the medium is this poorly constructed. More…

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Film review — Changing Lanes

Putting the film’s core macho rivalry aside, there’s a real whiff of MRA fantasy bullshit from Samuel L Jackson’s hard-done-by working stiff, and a depressing resignation to late-stage capitalistic amorality surfacing the road to Damascus for Ben Affleck’s Wall Street lawyer type. More…

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Film review — An American Pickle

The BiTiNg PoLiTiCaL sAtIrE will age faster than the artisanal scooter hipster shtick, and don’t think no one noticed the not-a-Sodastream-but-definitely-a-Sodastream image-sanitising product placement. But this is better than I’d expected. More…

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Film review — She Dies Tomorrow

If the performances were better (with the exception of Jane Adams, who is always worth watching), I might be more forgiving that this film cuts a sizeable cheque its story does not cash. More…

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Film review — Blue Vengeance

I do not get what others see in this. As a scuzzy thriller with urban decay as a metaphor (or not), it’s not a patch on the likes of Deadbeat at Dawn. And honestly I was out as soon as I realised the hitchhiking scenes were likely filmed on the pathways of a local park or something. The passion behind the project is clear; the results are what they are. More…

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Film review — Villains

Villains just about leans the right away between enthusiastic sampling and blatant rip-off of ideas, recycling its list of tropes and references into something that I think fairly counts as new. It also helps to have a co-lead as good as Maika Monroe is here, not to mention Kyra Sedgwick’s gleefully hammy turn. More…

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Film review — Becky

Never would I have imagined we’d get a remake of Fight For Your Life in the year of our lord Twenty-Twenty. More…

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Film review — Judge Dredd

There’s a lot to love about this film. No really, hear me out! There’s the cast, which runs from Max von Sydow and Jürgen Prochnow to James Remar and Ian Dury; a veritable who’s-who of ‘that guys’. The iconic uniforms are adapted by Gianni Versace, no less. And the overall production design is on point; it really does look the part, given the era when it was made. More…

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Film review — Matinee

Something tells me we won’t be getting any equivalent comedy-drama reminiscences of the Gulf War period in the next few years. More…

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Film review — Archive

Archive has an interesting story to tell in as far as how toxic masculinity can imbue one’s best intentions and response to grief — then chucks it for a cop-out ‘sci-fi’ twist that centres the problematic protagonist at the expense of its themes. A lost opportunity, indeed. More…

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Film review — The Thing

I don’t mess with John Carpenter’s The Thing; it’s far too well made, so good at what it does, and affects me on such a deeply visceral level, that the experience is genuinely horrifying and not at all enjoyable. This remake masquerading as a prequel is actually a more bearable experience, but only because the CGI renders the titular monster far less ‘real’, and eventually verges on silly, ‘Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond’ territory. Mary Elizabeth Winstead holds her own as the cool head within the heated macho atmosphere, which is a plus. But the story’s own logic doesn’t hold up at several crucial moments, and when your head’s out of a story like this, it’s done for. More…

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Film review — Family Romance, LLC

Sadly slept on the invite to the first day Q&A with Werner Herzog about his latest film, which seems to have been a few years in the making; odd for a digitally shot, vérité-style drama that could’ve been made in a week or less, given the end results. It hooks on a real-life Tokyo company that rents actors to fill voids in people’s lives, whether that’s Insta-fame, wishing to win the lottery or, in the case of the main plot strand, a missing father. What it lacks in surface emotion, it makes up for in philosophical provocation – even if an argument can be made that it slips into Orientalist cliché, what with that notion of ‘typical Japanese reserve’, and the pit stop at the kawaii hedgehog café. (The hedgehogs are cute, though.) More…

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Film review — You Should Have Left

A brilliant idea for a mind-bending chiller that unfortunately leans into the wrong kind of horror, going the sub-Shining route rather than digging deep into the non-Euclidean, spacetime-warping weirdness that could have made it a winner. More…

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Film review — 2010

What it lacks in visual poetry compared to its predecessor, it makes up for somewhat in, for lack of a better term, narrative drive; a diverting space yarn, with brilliant practical effects, that’s better than you imagine. More…

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Film review — The Grudge

A reboot of a well-trodden franchise that thinks it’s ingeniously clever but fails to realise it’s actually more confusing and boring than anything else. More…

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Film review — Underwater

Kristen Stewart’s character doesn’t rinse her mouth when she brushes her teeth, which honestly made me uncomfortable from the outset. More…

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Film review — Sea Fever

“We have to take responsibility.” Prescient themes, indeed. Almost worth forgiving the dodgy accents, and the borrowed tension from Alien and The Thing. More…

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Film review — The Lodge

It’s interesting that most people’s takeaway from this seems to be ‘these kids are awful’ when it should be quite obvious the dad is the real villain. More…

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Film review — Blade of the Immortal

I don’t know how closely it adheres to the original manga, but this one had me with its direct emotions (revenge!) and simple structure (one man fights through many and varied henchmen to reach the final boss) until the half-way mark, when far too many new characters get introduced and the fighting devolves into directionless brawling. Still, it’s very stylish for what it is, Takashi Miike not showing any discomfort with a bigger budget than usual. More…

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Film review — In Search of Darkness

The kitchen sink approach is perhaps understandable when the premise is essentially ‘Isn’t this thing I love awesome?’ but it’s not conducive to producing a film, among a glut of horror documentaries, that provides fresh insights. Or even old ones. I mean, and just citing one example, when it fails to acknowledge that Friday the 13th Part VI prefigured the fad for self-aware horror by a full decade, what are we even doing here? (I do have to add, though, that whenever Tom Adkins appears, he punctuates what would otherwise be a four-and-a-half-hour slog with a sparkling sense of mischief. He’s a treasure.) More…

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Film review — The Happening

The thing that really hamstrings this story is that M Night Shyamalan does not understand adult human relationships. Kids he gets, he can write for them fairly well, but his adults are ridiculous. Their dialogue, their interactions, their emotions are all so alien to any actual human experience, even accounting for melodrama and heightened atmosphere (neither of which are really present here). It’s purposefully distracting, it has to be, because he can’t focus on the nightmare at hand. Let’s have someone else take a crack at this same premise and see if we don’t get far more affecting results. More…

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Film review — The Rhythm Section

The Rhythm Section is a console game, basically — think a mission-based first-person assassin actioner. You’ve got your opening FMV clip that establishes your character and motivations, then an extended tutorial where you learn the skills necessary to do your job. Then you get sent on contract kills, while along the way learning bits and pieces towards the overarching story that leads to the revelatory finale. That the whole premise is fairly ludicrous is kind of a moot point, as the notion of anyone picking up a joypad to be a secret agent is just as ludicrous when you think about it. Just go with it, you know? But this is a film, without the interactivity that dispels the ridiculous notions. So, one long cut scene, more or less. More…

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Film review — What We Do Is Secret

Written and shot like a TV movie-of-the-week, What We Do Is Secret renders the chaotic story of LA hardcore band the Germs largely limp and lifeless. Indeed, its most remarkable feature, and an ironic one given the laissez-faire attention to detail throughout (like the burly Bronx standing in for the actually quite wiry and frenetic Black Flag pre-Rollins), is its uncomfortable relish in depicting the venomous homophobia amid the scene at the time. More…

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Film review — The Hunt

Satire really only works with a defined target. The Hunt’s satire, unfortunately, is about as scattershot as an AR-15, while at times it approaches a level of smugness only rivalled by the worst of South Park. It’s better just to ignore all that and home in on Betty Gilpin’s badass lead, as she Rambos her way through this latest twist on The Most Dangerous Game. More…

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Film review — DeepStar Six

Get this, kids: it’s well over an hour before this film gives us our first glimpse of its big scary monster. And it’s a decent creature, actually, even if they minimised its screen time to hide rough edges. The bigger issue is that DeepStar Six spends an uncomfortable amount of time in the preceding 67 minutes letching after Nia Peeples, who seems like she’s being set up as the Ripley of the piece (this being Sean Cunningham’s ‘Alien Under Water’, more or less) before she all but disappears from the plot. And then gets eaten. Spoiler alert? More…

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Film review — First Love

There’s a sweet romance at the core of this genre-mashup Yakuza flick, but Takashi Miike’s First Love is really all about the comedy of errors as its rogue’s gallery of characters — bent cops, inept gangsters and even bungling brain doctors — flail around Tokyo after hours. More…

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Film review — Space Truckers

This was made at Ardmore in Wicklow (with a scattering of other locations: I spotted the Civic Offices, and maybe Dollymount Strand?) and I remember the buzz as if we’d scored some big Hollywood production (Dennis Hopper! Stephen Dorff! Names we’ve heard of!) when in reality it was a cheap and cheerful slice of post-Charles Band space-ploitation. Critics absolutely piled on it at the time, but there’s really a lot to love. More…

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Film review — Come to Daddy

I was really not enjoying this — the humouring of awful people isn’t my bag, to say the least — and then comes the twist (lifted from [REDACTED], pretty much) and it becomes something genuinely fucked up. But still about the humouring of awful people. So I can’t say I liked it, but at least it was unexpected? More…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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