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


Tag: film

Film review — Zappa

It’s clearly made by someone (noted Blind Idiot God fan Alex Winter) with a passion for the work. But the presentation seems overly drab and stuffy for a musician whose music has such a zany reputation. Maybe that’s a problem of being too close to the thing, to feel like treating it in anything but the most reverent manner would be too frivolous or inappropriate when the opposite is more likely the case. More…

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Film review — The Net

Finally saw the whole thing after half-watching from midway through on Channel 4 one weekday afternoon a million years ago. It’s actually a decent story as these things go, but hangs on a hook so preposterous that it could only have allowed suspension of disbelief if it were set years ahead of right now, let alone 1995. More…

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Film review — Billy Liar

My 1,500th film logged on Letterboxd, and perhaps not the wisest choice for Sunday night viewing. I feel alienated somewhat from the small-town ennui as Bradford is hardly a small town; I’ve been to smaller places than that in England’s Midlands and there’s a distinctly more connected-to-the-outside-world feel than what you’d often find here in Ireland, even nearly 60 years after this was made. But the world is what you make of it, I suppose. More…

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Film review — In the Earth

Ben Wheatley essentially remixes A Field in England as a Nigel Kneale-style sci-fi horror for his most interesting project in years. More…

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Film review — Rawhead Rex

This is genuinely great stuff. Way ahead of its time in being a horror movie that’s set in contemporary Ireland, and which nods to our genuine pre-Christian folklore, without selling to the Yanks with backwards stereotypes. The accents are all over the shop, mind, but I think we can let that slide. More…

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Film review — Ape vs Monster

Why did I watch this?! It’s an Asylum production so I should have switched it off at the start; it’s a typically dull ‘mockbuster’ of theirs. I do have to say the two main women in the cast are pretty decent, especially given all the heavy lifting they have to do with the double burden of a rotten script and their shockingly poor male co-stars (Eric Roberts excepted, but he’s just there for the payday and the catering). More…

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Film review — In Search of Darkness: Part II

Maybe I was just in a better mood, but this feels decidedly superior to how I rated the first instalment. Perhaps it’s the more grab-bag choice of second-string ’80s horrors that prompts more enthusiasm here, or maybe it’s what feels like a stronger selection of talking heads who are more engaged with the material at hand. I enjoyed it, anyway, and it makes me want to give Part I another shot. More…

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Film review — Anti-Life

It’s probably not the wisest choice to take the time in your zero-budget Alien rip to directly reference (okay, I’m being too charitable…lift) dialogue from its influences when it only makes one contemplate how much I’d rather be watching one of those decades-old movies. Also, I’m pretty sure Thomas Jane was paid more per minute of screen time than Bruce Willis, despite the latter’s top billing. More…

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Film review — A Hard Day’s Night

What a strange film. In hindsight I can understand the choices made (the artsy black-and-white cinematography when colour was all the rage, the dry humour et al speak to the band’s interests in and around music) but I can’t conceive of how teeny-boppers comprehended any of it. Perhaps they were simply satisfied getting to see the Fab Four on the big screen and didn’t care about the medium itself, although they did get ripped off on the songs: only a handful of full performances, and one of them’s done twice. More…

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Film review — Class of 1984

Right-wing vigilante fantasy meets grade-A ‘the kids are outta control!’ panic-sploitation. Featuring a gang that vacillates unnervingly between the toothlessness of childish pranks and out-and-out rape and murder. The payoff is truly something. More…

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Film review — Mortal Kombat

I’ve browsed so many reviews saying this is boring and I can only imagine it’s because the bombastic bullshit of the usual superhero action flick had broken their brains. Is it lower-key than you might be expecting? Sure. It holds a lot back, arguably too much. But it’s never boring. More…

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Film review — Hackers

Letterboxd says I watched this nine years ago but it clearly left zero traces. Nothing about it jogged my memory; indeed the biggest impression was just how much trouble the makers had in 1994 trying to visualise the concept of being, for lack of a better phrase, into computers. Which is funny because War Games did it pretty well a decade before. More…

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Film review — Jiu Jitsu

Recycled Predator plot notwithstanding, this had all the right ingredients — Tony Jaa, my boy Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan from Wu Assassins and crazy Nicolas Cage — but it needed to be much shorter and snappier. You know, like actual jiu jitsu. It also could have done without those silly comic book transitions; they didn’t work in the director’s cut of The Warriors and they don’t work now. More…

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Film review — The Brood

Forty-two years later and The Brood is still a shocker. Cronenberg’s transgressiveness is all the stronger here for its groundedness; the most thrilling moments are in the realm of the mundane rather than the obviously grotesque body horror. It’s also about more than the maker’s messy divorce, but let’s not get too academic: it is very much about that, too, and the parts where Cronenberg sublimates his anger into imagery are uncomfortable in the worst way. More…

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Film review — Run

Run is far too slowly paced to work as the taut chiller it wants to be. When it most needs to quicken, to ramp up that tension, it shifts down to a jog and begs for the skip-forward button. And by the time it’s ready to sprint for the finish, it’s already chosen the wrong line. Shame…I quite liked Searching and all. More…

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Film review — Raw Deal

The lone ’80s Arnie movie I’d never seen before, and it’s a live one. The plot is a mess but there’s always something going on so there’s no time to worry about it. Suffice it to say, Arnie swaggers around murdering people and dialogue for an hour and 45 minutes. What more do you want? I think my favourite part is near the end, after our man shoots up the bad guy’s holdout and he comes upon a snivelling Frank from Murphy Brown trying to top himself with an empty pistol. It just sums up what a sheer force of nature we had here, crappy one-liners and all. More…

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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 — Reborn

Fun fact, trivia fans: this was directed by the same man who helmed the body-under-the-patio arc in Brookside (what a way for Anna Friel to kick-start her career, eh?). Also, the woman who plays the central character here is from Ermelo, where my SO spent three years of her childhood (“It’s a shithole,” she just called out from the other room). Anyway…yeah this is inept, despite the non-standard plot contrivance that’s also a meta-commentary on what Hollywood’s like for women. I presume that’s what appealed to Barbara Crampton…that and the ending you won’t expect in your wildest dreams. More…

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Film review — Ronin

Just a killer action thriller from end to end, with car chases you’d swear were shot on the fly if not for the camera coverage. But marks deducted for those dreadful Ulster accents and the, er, reductive take on the Troubles. More…

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Film review — Skylines

Limitations of budget and the pandemic are writ large in a small, unnecessary third outing. Was anyone really gagging for a backstory? Surely not this rehash of Star Trek’s Borg, at any rate. But hey, the blooper reel (yes) shows the cast had some fun making it so that’s nice. 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 — Stallone: Frank, That Is

It’s a documentary by numbers until Sly shows up, and the brotherly love just leaps from the screen. Someone should follow them around with a camera for a while and give us that film. More…

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Film review — Pet Sematary

All the jump scares and the grimdark ending are just to distract you from the fact that this one takes the coward’s way out. You know what I mean. More…

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Film review — Deep Impact

There was a time when you and I would’ve blanched at the ‘millions of people died but ¯_(ツ)_/¯’ sentiment at the end of this film, especially since what took place three years after it came out, but then the pandemic happened and now it doesn’t seem so unbelievable. More…

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Film review — Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

I recently picked up the complete Batman: The Animated Series on Blu-ray for a song (€50 for 12 discs!) and this was part of the package; weirdly enough, I’d never seen it before despite being all in on the show back in the day. But I also had a real sense of déjà vu, probably because I’ve seen a review or something that I’ve forgotten. It’s good like everyone says, but there’s absolutely a sense of people being overly impressed that a “kids’ cartoon” can flex such maturity, and it still feels more like a three- or four-episode arc than a film in its own right. More…

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Film review — Moxie

Forty-year-old white cishet male me looks at this movie and thinks, ‘Man, this paints with the broadest of strokes.’ But it’s not for me, is it? More…

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Film review — Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

This is just…not a good documentary. If it’s about the mystery and tragedy of Elisa Lam, then it stretches what’s a two-hour story at best over a painfully meandering four hours. If it’s really supposed to be about the ‘web sleuth’ conspiracy theorists à la Room 237, then it does a piss-poor job of interrogating how their quasi-vigilante actions did and do far more harm than good. Overall, it has a sneering, right-wing slant that builds this false impression of Skid Row as a den of iniquity and a magnet for the morally bankrupt rather than what it really was and is: a manufactured project to ghettoise the underclass. More…

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Film review — The Yin Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

It’s adapted from a game that’s based on a series of novels so clearly has loads of fans, and when things kick off I can see the appeal. But so much of the film is taken up by a sub-Harry Potter mystery plot that’s as tremendously dull as the soppy romance at its core. More…

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Film review — Red Dot

Let me save you the trouble: this I’m-so-clever thriller hangs on the kind of preposterously grandiose twist that renders everything that came before completely nonsensical. It’s almost moot that it’s just cringeworthy calamity after calamity up till that point, and then more or less continues in that fashion. 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 — Next

Not only does it squander its premise and render what should be a white-knuckle thriller as a weirdly staid talking piece for long stretches, it also fails to harness Nicolas Cage’s unhinged energy for any sustained results. Oh, and Julianne Moore’s character is a brunette. Why would you…never mind. Next! More…

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Film review — Space Sweepers

Completely derivative and far too long for the substance of its story, but there’s always something happening so there’s no time to get bored. That’s more than can be said for a lot of so-called spectacles of this ilk. More…

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