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


Tag: streaming

Film review — Eli

This fairly rote haunted-house medical horror from the director of the fine Citadel and terrible Sinister 2 takes such a gonzo twist in the final act that it’s worth persevering. More…


Film review — Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy attempts both an affectionate tribute to Rudy Ray Moore, and to make amends for the casual homophobia and misogyny that marked much of his own rise to stardom, and more or less succeeds at both? I didn’t see that coming. (Mind you, we never do learn what happened to the vagrants that Dolemite nicked his act from, do we?) More…


Film review — Avengement

In all seriousness, who needs S Craig Zahler and his crypto-fascism when you’ve got Scott Adkins fighting his way through Belmarsh prison and an East London pub? More…


Film review — In the Tall Grass

I looked up the synopsis of the original story, written by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, and it’s King by numbers. Haunted grass? Check. Man who’s manipulated into sublimating his shortcomings as a husband and father into psychotic rage? Check. Unsatisfyingly denouement? Oh, you’d better believe that’s a check. But in the hands of Vincenzo Natali, who’d previously never really fulfilled the promise of Cube all those years ago, the story is something else. It’s an adaptation that adds a mind-bending twist to the premise while foregrounding its themes of power, patriarchy and toxic masculinity, though it does tend to get a tad too obvious about those for its own good. More…


Film review — In the Shadow of the Moon

‘Ambitious but flawed’ is a cliche, but it nevertheless applies to Jim Mickle’s follow-up to the hardcore Cold In July — a sci-fi mystery that holds its cards so close to its chest, I’d imagine it’ll lose many viewers before the reveal finally comes. Mickle’s previous was more successful at the bait-and-switch plotting move, and with its period depictions. There’s a jarring sense of not-quite-rightness here that ultimately distracts and detracts from the story. More…


Film review — Shanghai Fortress

I’m not sure whether the not-so-subtle Chinese exceptionalism here is just a dig at the Yanks, or whether they really believe in it. In any case, all the flash-bang action and noble sacrifices leave no impression when both sides in this fight are so thinly drawn. More…


Film review — Blackhat

Blackhat takes itself far too seriously for such a preposterous story. I mean, one minute our man’s a hacker, the next he’s shooting guns, then he’s in a radiation suit? What?! It hardly even matters that he’s barely, y’know, doing stuff with an actual computer. I understand it’s difficult to make a concept like cybercrime cinematic, but surely not that hard to make it not this. More…


Film review — Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

It’s an odd duck, this: a study of a revered local hero in hipster capital Portland that’s also character piece with no characters, as faces and bodies seem to flit in and out of the subject’s life. Gus Van Sant writes and directs here with affection but also an aimlessness that doesn’t do the work any favours because unlike, say, Gerry, it’s not exactly the point. More…


Film review — Orphan

A trimmer edit and a tighter script — say, down to 90 minutes — might have solved some of the frustrating ‘people would never behave that way!’ issues that mar what’s otherwise an effectively chilly Hitchcockian/De Palma-esque thriller, especially in its all-out final act. More…


Film review — Molly’s Game

Before I saw either, I kept getting Molly’s Game confused with Miss Sloane. Now that I’ve finally watched the former, I still don’t see the difference. More…


Film review — Fist of Fury

There’s a solid 40 to 50% of this film that isn’t Bruce Lee just straight up murdering people with his feet and fists and it would be better off without it, to be honest. More…


Film review — Beautiful Boy

A reminder that very personal stories of the needle and the damage done don’t necessarily universalise, especially when the tincture is tainted with so much white privilege. More…


Film review — Creed

Creed is… less than what I’d expected? Maybe it was too much to want something different than what amounts to a near-literal retread of the original Rocky. And especially one that’s so impatient to get to an ending it neither needs nor deserves that it fails to explore and expand upon the unique aspects it really has going for it. When it does stop to breathe, those are the moments when it truly comes alive as its own thing. More…


Film review — Miracle Mile

Here’s a film of two halves if there ever was one: a meet-cute romcom spins off as an After Hours-style comedy of errors before sliding into decidedly grim apocalyptic terror. It’s all deeply weird and like nothing else I’ve seen, that’s for sure. More…


Film review — Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller

This portrait of combat sports commentator Mauro Ranallo doesn’t pull many punches when it comes to his personal struggles with mental health. I’m not sure how successful it is at dispelling myths or erasing stigma, but it’s certainly heartening to see how many people in his life were willing to look beyond the ‘crazy’ to the real person and their value. More…


Film review — I’m Gonna Git You Sucka

The gag timing leaves a lot to be desired, but the Wayans are almost there with this one, so very close to the formula that would click in near every respect with Don’t Be a Menace… Who knew at the time that would be their peak? More…


Film review — The Wanderers

Early 1960s Americana nostalgia, apparently, but cut with enough racism and sexism to make for uncomfortable viewing. I mean, even at the time, let alone 40 years after it was made. More…


Film review — The Wandering Earth

It’s hard to put a finger on why this doesn’t quite work, but it probably has something to do with the emotional disconnect between the grounded but standard drama at its core (family and its meaning, etc) and the entirely separate, ultimately lifeless spectacle of Jupiter threatening to swallow the earth. As well as it’s technically put together, it also feels a lot longer and more meandering than it is. More…


Film review — Dead Man’s Shoes

It feels like Dead Man’s Shoes one doesn’t get the love it deserves, even compared to Shane Meadows’ other work like This Is England. But it’s one of the best horror films I’ve seen, that’s for sure. Warts and all. What a crying shame it’s hardly ever regarded as such. More…


Film review — Spring Breakers

I was not expecting Jeff Jarrett to pop up in the first few minutes here. Anyway, he’s only on the fringes, where the promise of a more interesting story lies. The main thrust is a fairly confused mash-up of violent crime thriller, exploitation aesthetic (I do not get Spring Break; isn’t it just Rumspringa for assholes?) and Malick-esque impressionism that carries no message; it’s only provocative like someone poking you with a finger. Yet I didn’t not like it, and I can’t quite put my own finger on why. Maybe it’s because I’m reading into the depth implied but never explored. More…


Film review — What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Lucky me got to watch the advance stream of this as an early backer of the crowdfunded project. And it’s exactly what it says it is: two hours of the people that made Deep Space Nine — the writers and the cast — looking back on what made their brand of Star Trek so special, and what makes it still resonate today, 20 years after its last episodes were broadcast. Part talking-heads documentary, part oral history, part reminiscence, and part speculation on what might have been, it all comes together like the picture of a dream convention panel. An unashamed feelgood movie, for sure. More…


Film review — Escape from L.A.

You know what? In hindsight, this isn’t nearly as bad as it seemed at the time. It definitely pales in comparison to the original, but really only in the ropey CGI and its moments of ridiculous self-parody. Otherwise, it makes a decent case for being the last not-absolutely-terrible John Carpenter flick. More…


Film review — Studio 54

I’m not going to review the form, here — like virtually all contemporary documentaries, it’s your bog-standard combination of talking head interviews, archival footage and voices over pans of photographs — but on substance, it’s worth the investment, even if its sorely lacking its most crucial voice. More…


Film review — Mercy Black

Mercy Black’s debt to The Babadook is obvious, but it also nods to Wes Craven’s nightmares as much as the internet creepypasta like Slender Man that inspired its story, lending some depth that belies its meagre resources. More…


Film review — Triple Frontier

Extrajudicial killings are bad, but they stole millions of dollars from a drug cartel so yay? (As an action heist thriller, it was fine, yet highlights a gulf in charisma and presence between Oscar Isaac and Baffleck and his fellow jocks.) More…


Film review — Phase IV

Saul Bass to Paramount Pictures: “Hey fellas, I’ve got a great idea: The Andromeda Strain, only slower and more tedious.” More…


Film review — ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre

I’ve only got one connection to the Troubles: I wouldn’t be here if my mam had taken a couple more minutes to change her shoes after work on 17 May 1974. Because she’d been hastier than usual that day, she was already at Connolly Station when the UVF car bomb on Talbot Street exploded. The same terrorist thugs, today a bottom-feeding gang of drug traffickers, were also responsible for the murder of three members of the Miami Showband — whose story is told in this brief but to-the-point documentary charting the surviving members’ fight to uncover the British state collusion behind the killings. (And while it hasn’t been proven, we all know they did it.) More…


Film review — Katie

It’s hard to do a documentary about someone who’s still on the ascendancy, whose life doesn’t really have enough drama for Story with a capital S. So as a narrative, it’s middling, however inspirational its subject or well shot and produced the final package. More…


Film review — Pacific Rim

Second viewing, still boring. I would say unremarkable, but there’s a lot one can say about its manifold problems: the rampant otaku fetishism; the forced nomenclature absent context or explanation, like ‘jaegers’ (very quasi-fascist, that one) and ‘chasing the rabbit’; the determination to stuff into less than two hours a whole series worth of plot (the ‘human element’ I complained about previously, which was a bit unfair as that’s what most giant robot manga/anime is about, ultimately). The film rushes through the bullet points of its treatment at a breathless pace without anything really happening, and the results just wash over and away down the drain. Quite a remarkable feat, actually, to make a movie about massive monsters and the machines that fight them so dull. More…


Film review — Raising Cain

Watched the re-cut of this, which is supposedly approved by Brian De Palma himself. He’s such an idiosyncratic filmmaker, especially here, where the Hitchcock references are in full effect along with confident nods to his own oeuvre. The combination is so heightened, so deliriously odd that it could not possibly be recreated by anyone else. Essential viewing, also, for anyone who appreciates what Shyamalan was trying to do with Split. More…


Film review — Await Further Instructions

Distracting self-conscious references aside — the themes are blunt enough without the family also being named Milgram — there’s a messed-up body horror edge that nudges this above average for a low-budget chiller. More…


Film review — Velvet Buzzsaw

I felt the same way about The Square: satirising the art world is shooting fish in a barrel. But that’s pretty much all The Square was about. Velvet Buzzsaw has a different problem, in that it can’t make up its mind whether it wants over-the-top mania like a souped-up psychotronic slasher, or genuine horror tension like writer/director Dan Gilroy’s incredible previous, Nightcrawler. Either mode renders the other ineffective. More…