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


Tag: streaming

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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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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Film review — Moon 44

This one is interesting as the first time Roland Emmerich worked with Dean Devlin (here as a co-star; he wasn’t yet a writer). The aesthetic influence of Blade Runner and Aliens looms large in the production design, but that’s the only suggestion of the potential that would be realised in Stargate four years later. In this case, Emmerich is working with a threadbare plot — mostly boring, occasionally uncomfortable — that simply doesn’t support the vision. More…

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Film review — In Search of the Last Action Heroes

A YouTube video essayist makes what’s more or less his dream project and it’s kind of accidentally great? I mean, it’s clear Alex Winter was secured as one of the talking heads as there was no way they were getting Keanu, but his insight lends the sort of depth and gravitas that a relatively dry documentary about an anything-but-dry subject really needs. More…

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Film review — Final Destination 3

It will always bother me about these movies that they start with a premonition that no one wanted, then the person who experiences it and those they influence are targeted by the invisible hand of fate, but the premonition itself somehow doesn’t count as something that was fated to happen. Yes I overthink these things, but that’s just the kind of person I am. More…

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Film review — Contraband

This Lucio Fulci poliziottesco about smugglers in Naples is mostly dull until the ultraviolence ramps ups the sleaze factor halfway through. More…

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Film review — Hell of the Living Dead

An amateurish riff on Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and the cannibal exploitation craze, but it’s weirdly watchable, and contains some real flashes of brilliance, as if the work of a genius obscured by a near total lack of technical skill. More…

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Film review — Morning Glory

So let me get this straight. Rachel McAdams’ morning show producer has no qualms about sacking the sex pest anchor her first day on the job, but is grand about suffering for weeks Harrison Ford’s sanctimonious newscaster? A character, by the way, who moans constantly about the tabloid antics of the format being far beneath his gravitas, but he’s got no problem staining his reputation by going on air sozzled, or bickering like a bratty child with his co-anchor. Right. If this were a funnier comedy none of this would linger in my mind, I wouldn’t overthink it, but as it is it was all I could think about. More…

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Film review — Outside the Wire

The turgid hyperrealism of modern warfare (pun very much intended) in films such as this is just as divorced from the actual consequences of war as the bombastic shoot-em-up spectacles of the Eighties, and between the two I’d rather have the latter. Anthony Mackie’s spot-on Will Smith impression here notwithstanding. More…

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Film review — The Caller

An arch-as-arch-can-be mystery riff that really goes for broke with that ending, almost as if Charles Band was like “OK we’ll make your picture, but how about we do… this?” More…

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Film review — Tenet

Like most of Christopher Nolan’s previous would-be thinking-man’s blockbusters, Tenet reaches for grandiose, highfalutin ideas but is always more concerned with small, personal drama. The conflict between the two — the appeals to the heart while at the same time taking the smug, condescending approach to tricksy storytelling concepts — is why it doesn’t quite work. More…

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Film review — Tag

At some point about half-way through, this film — the witless script, its awful characters, the whole shebang — realises it might be a mean-spirited mess. That could have made for an interesting turn of events. Instead, Tag decides it’s in too deep to back out, so carries on pretending like it never knew. But I couldn’t forget it. More…

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Film review — All About Nina

It’s funny that the first I heard of this movie was when it just popped up on Netflix because at many moments throughout it got me thinking, ‘Hey, this feels like that Netflix show Love.’ Not that Love has the scorched-earth finale we get here, mind you. Brave or foolhardy: that’s the question that comes to mind. But it’s got a tour de force performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead all the same. And I’m not just talking about her impression of Celine Dion. More…

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Film review — Point Blank

I wasn’t really feeling the awkward tonal shift here between gritty action thriller and send-up of the same, at least until Markice Moore’s Friedkin-obsessed gangbanger entered the frame. That’s when it had me. More…

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Film review — Backdraft

This has zero business being nearly two-and-a-half hours long, and commits the terrible crime of casting Jennifer Jason Leigh and giving her virtually nothing to do. It’s also a prime example of a great high concept in search of a plot (they really do try for the ‘fire is eeeeevil’ angle at one point). But the set pieces and stunt work really do hold up. More…

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Film review — Sudden Death

I mean, what other film can you suggest that has Jean Claude Van Damme fighting an ice hockey mascot, Powers Boothe being an utter bastard terrorising children, and the worst helicopter crash in action cinema history? More…

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Film review — Black Circle

Pretensions of Cronenberg meeting Lovecraft in this faulty Swedish horror, which nicks concepts from a number recent, better films (It Follows, Get Out) but really falters by telling rather than showing — and telling far too much. More…

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Film review — Friedkin Uncut

Like the similar overview of De Palma a few years ago, this could only be a taster of an idiosyncratic career in film, so for me it’s a step down from Leap of Faith, which really gets into the nitty gritty of what makes William Friedkin tick. More…

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Film review — Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist

Far and away the best thing on Shudder right now. It’s less the director on The Exorcist itself as it is about the philosophy behind it, and Friedkin’s own filmmaking philosophy. He’s a learned guy with an enthusiasm for culture in general, and he’s refreshingly honest about working on instinct and going places that even he doesn’t understand all these years later. More…

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Film review — The Church

Bava’s Demons but in a church, basically, but with an understatedness that’s peculiar for this kind of thing: subtle characterisations, comparatively little gore and an eye for arresting arthouse imagery. More…

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Film review — The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky seems to operate under the assumption that holding off on explaining to the audience the cause of its cataclysmic event will keep us intrigued enough to carry on watching despite its thoroughly lazy chain of sci-fi/daddy-issues cliches. I mean, I saw it through to the end (at 1.5x speed, mind) but you don’t have to be such a masochist. More…

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Film review — The Kiosk

Shot on an iPhone over the course of a few months at a Parisian newspaper kiosk, artist-turned-shopkeep-turned-director Alexandra Pianelli’s film documents the end of an era in a day-to-day existence that’s rife with contradictions. As much as the internet has tangibly affected the livelihoods of all who work in print media, from the publications down to the vendors, there will always be a demand for the tactile, the human touch, as lovingly recorded here. It’s a rewarding job for those who thrive on those connections with people from all walks of life, as Alexandra and her mother seem to do, but it also leaves one vulnerable to the elements. Then there’s a wry moment where a homophobic protest nearby turns out to be a boon for business; the sales of far-right rags help keep the shutters up at a stall where an immigrant fruit-and-veg seller hides his produce from the gendarmerie. It’s the yin and yang, the positive and the negative, as one friendly neighbour puts it about an entirely different matter, but the metaphor works for me. More…

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Film review — What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

It’s got all the makings of a giallo classic — an outrageously lurid plot, a masked marauder with a giant knife, and a bleak-as-anything ending — but doesn’t execute any of it to the high standard set by the genre’s most memorable offerings. More…

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Film review — Manhattan Baby

An ancient Egyptian curse? Child possession? A man pecked to death by taxidermied birds? It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s a Lucio Fulci horror movie, so whatcha gonna do? More…

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