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


Tag: download

Film review — Godzilla vs. Kong

I didn’t hate it, but it’s not what I was hoping for. Early response gave me the impression it was monster fights from start to finish, when in reality it’s a Kong movie that occasionally guest-stars Godzilla, and spends the bulk of its time with characters who are less point-of-view than pointless. Then when it does get to the colossal tussles, there’s nothing particularly creative about them — something that would have made up somewhat for the consistently distracting holes in its own logic. I can accept a lot in a movie about giant monsters pounding the stuffing out of each other, but not that much. Anyway. Meh. More…

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Film review — Boss Level

I have a lot of time for Frank Grillo, but this…is not the vehicle to showcase his talents. The premise demands relentless action; what we get is dragged down into dullsville by the ‘hero needs a family drama’ mandate. More…

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Film review — Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter gives me similar feelings to what I had with Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, in that I mostly enjoyed my time with it and I’m down for watching a sequel. But for a film with epic promise, it feels very small; the locations are samey (a desert and…another kind of desert) and I counted a total of five monsters, only three of which have any real bearing on the plot. The editing is also odd; some sections feel excessively trimmed, and the cutting of the action scenes leaves much to be desired — it’s Tony Jaa, for fuck’s sake, let him do his thing! Milla Jovovich is acceptable as ever; she’s never really lit the screen alight for me. Jaa does a lot of the heavy lifting in their buddy pairing, all the more impressive as his character doesn’t speak English. Also, Ron Perlman with anime hair (as my SO put it so accurately) scores bonus points. More…

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Film review — What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

The Pauline Kael primer, more or less. Fans of her work will probably be left wanting, despite (or because of) the hagiography. I was left with the impression of someone of whom I can appreciate the enthusiasm, but disagree with the methods. More…

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Film review — A Glitch in the Matrix

Unlike Room 237 — which was all curiosity about its subjects and their wackadoo theories, the topic at hand aside — A Glitch in the Matrix has a thesis. It’s not the strongest (to someone who started his philosophy degree the year The Matrix came out so never really saw what all the fuss was about) but it does the work of contextualising where solipsistic ideas like simulation theory come from, and the dark places they can end up. More…

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Film review — Roadgames

This one loses an entire star for its absolutely farcical score. It turns a neo-Hitchcockian Ozploitation thriller into a bloody Ealing comedy or something. More…

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Film review — The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

I could be glib about the Brothers Gibb and say ‘They’ll always be Les Tossers to me’ but I can’t deny those harmonies. The biggest downside to this (mostly posthumous) documentary is that it’s far too slight, and skips over much of the pre-superstardom days and records that should be more than footnotes in their story. Give me the four-hour cut with stuff about early albums like Cucumber Castle and whatever possessed them to give a record a title like Cucumber Castle. More…

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Film review — O Lucky Man!

The blackface (not once, but twice!) really sticks out like a sore thumb in what’s otherwise a film that resonates as much today as it must’ve done back in 1973, with all that seething anger against the system barely concealed by the offbeat mirth. More…

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Film review — Action USA

You know, I didn’t really care for this. More of a ‘couple of beers into film night with the lads’ kind of deal, methinks. Dug the explosions, though. So many explosions. More…

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Film review — Promising Young Woman

It would be so easy to cast this aside as a caricature of toxic masculinity. I mean, it’s practically begging for it. But what you have to realise is that men, the target of its satire and ire, are fucking clichés (being a man, I speak from experience) and this movie gets really, really gets that. More…

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Film review — Cobra

Cobra is brilliant, isn’t it? The first 40 minutes, and the hellish symbolism of the climactic fight scene, retain a powerfully unsettling weirdness even after all these years. The story does kind of lose its way once it’s taken out of the city and becomes more conventional Cannon action fodder, alas. If it had gone all-in on the murderous cult angle, we’d be talking about all-time classic; as it is, though, it remains criminally underrated. More…

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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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