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


Tag: streaming

Film review — Blood Brothers

This one’s a bit of a drag, alas, with a dearth of gripping combat and a thin love quadrangle plot that isn’t enough to sustain the two-hour run time. However, the impressive geometry of its shot composition does count for a lot. More…


Film review — Come Drink with Me

No option to watch this on Prime Video without the atrocious dubbing (or with subtitles to translate the on-screen text and mid-film song) but holy moly it’s beautifully composed stuff, scene after scene, shot after shot. More…


Film review — Searching

Did you spot the big clue to unravelling the mystery right at the start? I sure did, then forgot about it till the final act, which is actually a good sign for how engrossing the story is despite the desktop interface gimmick. The one big mark against, alas, is (not a spoiler, you won’t know what I mean until the end) its unfortunate treatment of mental illness as a deviant character trait; I thought we were over that by now. More…


Film review — Fear City: New York vs The Mafia

“There’s a strange bond that sometimes exists between law enforcement officers and criminals. They both live by codes of honour and respect more stringent than most normal people. And there’s a certain psychological connection there.”

That’s one of the cops of this piece, inadvertently revealing the police psyche as we see it plain as day today. More…


Film review — While You Live, Shine

Paul Duane’s endearing, engaging documentary follows an American record collector and musicologist to the place of his dreams, a village in northern Greece where the continuity of its folk music and community tradition has remained unchanged despite the ravages of capitalist modernity. A beautifully composed film, indeed. More…


Film review — Weathering With You

Screened (or rather, streamed) as part of this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, this is Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Your Name and unfortunately a slighter film overall, with a whimsy that takes the edge off its emotional rawness. Nevertheless, it remains true to the director’s common themes of love embattled by circumstances, and the marginalisation of spiritual culture (or cultural spirituality) in contemporary Japanese society, with a fantastical tale of a ‘sunshine girl’ whose prayers can banish the rain, but only put it off to another time – a fairly blunt metaphor for the need to face up to one’s responsibilities in life. Needless to say it looks impeccable, in the attention to those little details that seems beyond the vision, if not the capabilities, of mainstream western animation. More…


Film review — Our Little Sister

A likely story, you might say if someone told you the plot — a trio of twentysomething sisters discover a younger, teenage half-sibling after their father’s death, and welcome her into their literally ramshackle home and figuratively ramshackle lives — but in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s hands, the realness of this manga adaptation shines through. Bittersweet without that desperation to tug at the heart-strings, and ultimately satisfying in its deliberate end without an ending, on a note of hope for new beginnings. Love it. More…


Film review — Una

Adapting theatre for film takes more than just blocking scenes differently for the camera but keeping the stagey dialogue and projected interactions. In this case, it makes for a poorly rendered film of what’s actually an important story that excoriates patriarchal control. Rooney Mara is good as the titular young woman damaged by childhood abuse, both emboldened by maturity and confused in her predicament. But Ben Mendelsohn essays a real creep in her erstwhile abuser, who more or less picks up where he left off when Una re-enters his sights. They deserved a better vehicle than this. More…


Film review — The Big Lebowski

Rewatched for the first time in years and… I could take it or leave it, now. The episodic nature really highlights how flimsy the story is, and it’s not nearly as funny as it thinks it is. It makes me wonder, did I really like it back in the day, or just go along with consensus? Fuck it. More…


Film review — Fastball

It’s an easy watch for 90-odd minutes, but there’s not much here. Some baseball players don’t understand physics; that’s about it. More…


Film review — Scarface

Almost three hours and only one unmistakably Hitchcockian moment? That’s positively restrained for Brian DePalma! Its politics are kind of fucked (that’s screenwriter Oliver Stone for you) and the brownface is pretty egregious. It’s also quite jarring in its clashing of near Shakespearean drama with ’80 action movie excess. I’ll be damned if I wasn’t engrossed, though. More…


Film review — Contact

Never saw this when it came out, nor on countless opportunities to see it on TV since, and… it’s fine? I’m a sucker for sentimentality but I felt strangely distanced from this one. The climax is as underwhelming as everyone says. And I have a feeling it’s up there in Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos’ lists. More…


Film review — Da 5 Bloods

The contemporising that Spike Lee couldn’t help himself from including at the end of BlacKKKlansman gets a better airing here, in a film that’s probably a reel too long and is as on-the-nose as you might expect but arrests with its confidence, blending drama and documentary feel in a (ghosts of) war film that never lets you forget what you’re watching. More…


Film review — Three

What even is this? It’s supposed to be a suspenseful action thriller about a wanted criminal boss with a bullet in his brain who refuses treatment and the cops who want him in a cell but themselves are targets of the criminal’s associates, which is all well and good. But nothing happens. Literally, for all but the last 15 minutes the characters mill around and bicker, plans are formed and fall through, and all with little if any progression to the story. I don’t know where everyone else is reading all this social commentary in the text, when there’s barely any text to begin with. Ditto the supposed balletic composition. There’s no surprise to the supposedly tense bits — really, it has all the tension of someone setting up an elaborate domino run that just sort of flops over and it’s done and should we clap now? I suppose it’s polite, like you would at the end of a ballet that sucked. Meanwhile, the main protagonist is an asshole misogynist who constantly needles his overweight colleague (who’s played for comic relief, so you know what kind of bullshit that is). A key plot point seems to hinge on everyone’s astonishment that a man who says his right hand is banjaxed can still shoot a gun with it, and anyway can still use his left hand? And it’s dotted with product placement for some brand of itch relief cream? I… what?? More…


Film review — Psycho II

The kill count might be lower than average, and the star power stronger, but this is absolutely an Eighties slasher movie and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. More…


Film review — The Forest of Love

Sion Sono fuses elements of a shocking Japanese true crime story with the cultural mythology of the Manson murders (perhaps under the influence of Tarantino’s recent attempt at same?), his usual social critique, and a nod to his own filmmaking origins, for a melange that’s really an odd fit for a ’Netflix original’. Like, I can’t imagine how this would convert anyone who’d never watched anything like this before. But I think back to seeing Miike’s Audition, Gozu and The Happiness of the Katakuris in the cinema and wonder if maybe just being this heady is enough. More…


Film review — Virus

I kind of love the ending segment, it’s all stark imagery and iconography and melodrama. I don’t love that it meanders through two-and-a-half hours to get there. More…


Film review — Chuck

I have nowt to say about this movie, except two things: one, I’d forgotten Chuck Wepner had a boxer-versus-wrestler match with Andre the Giant; and two, you’re telling me the casting director couldn’t find anyone who looked even a little bit like Muhammad Ali? More…


Film review — Beetlejuice

A few things to note here, having watched this for the first time in donkey’s years: there’s a set-up, but basically no real plot, it’s more an experience than a movie; it does not out-stay its welcome, all wrapped up in a neat 90 minutes; and Michael Keaton is the GOAT. More…


Film review — Police Academy

Why am I watching these? Am I that desperately ill this week? Anyway, the first instalment of the Police Academy franchise surprised me by a) not being as actively terrible as you might imagine or remember, and b) really going for the racial ‘humour’ to a startling degree, even if the black cast members are explicitly not the butt of the joke. More…


Film review — Girl on the Third Floor

CM Punk — excuse me, Phil Brooks — stars in this economical haunted house horror with a clear feminist message, but a less clear backstory/mythos that’s bungled in the execution. Bonus points for a brooding soundtrack courtesy of Alison Chesley (Helen Money) and Steve Albini, and a really beautifully done opening title sequence. More…


Film review — Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II

There’s enough good material here for a 90-minute, maybe two-hour oral history of the making of these late 1980s horror classics. For some inexplicable reason, however, the makers of Leviathan decided they needed three-and-a-half hours, shoving in what seems like all of the material they gathered (whether it adds to the story or not, and even then it’s wanting in certain areas, like the Coil soundtrack), and topping it off with a voice-over that’s both poorly scripted and terribly recorded. Strictly amateur hour on the production front here, so, and it does the interesting anecdotes (of which there are quite a few) serious disservice. More…


Film review — Why Horror?

I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to watch this had it not been streaming on a service I just got a free month for, but it’s a fun little exploration of why horror cinema matters as a personal and cultural phenomenon. It’s breezy and light in tone, but also substance; there’s scope for someone else to pick up the baton and blow this into a series, investigating, say, whether mainstream aversion to horror as a genre is unique to the western context. Not just why horror, but how? More…


Film review — Suspiria

I’m not especially a fan of Argento’s original (stylistically it’s a winner; his giallos appeal more in substance) but this? It’s metaphor straining for meaning; hollow, pretentious. It’s a compendium of all the worst tendencies coddled by the art-housing of horror. More…


Film review — Hail Satan?

Very much like the group it depicts, Hail Satan? is less about contemporary organised Satanism as a thing than it is about highlighting the hypocrisy of an insidious theocratic Christianity and the people who buy into its bullshit. It doesn’t really add anything new to the thesis, but it’ll while away an hour and a half. More…


Film review — Videodrome

David Cronenberg must think back on this film, nearly 40 years after the fact, and get chills. Not so much for the prescience of the themes (the deleterious effects of life mediated through screens, sure, alongside hefty slices of transhumanism, dark enlightenment and totalitarian tendencies) but because his extremist depictions more or less came true. More…


Film review — Fighting with My Family

It’s hard to watch this as a wrestling fan, knowing that one can pull up Paige’s debut on Raw within a matter of moments on the WWE Network and witness the enormous pop for her entrance, and her effortless confidence in the ring — nothing at all like the timid ingenue before a dead crowd that the film would have us believe. There’s a lot of that revisionism here, pushing the credulity of kayfabe, but there’s also a lot of genuine rapport between Florence Pugh’s Paige and the rest of her fighting family that makes it worth sticking out. So, bad as a wrestling movie, but decent as an irreverent comedy-drama, I suppose? More…