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


Unsound

PDF downloads of the 1980s underground zine. #link


Rollercoaster Bridge

That’s one steep bridge. (Also, complete coincidence that it’s the unofficial titles of the Red House Painters’ first two albums.) #link


Horror film linkdump

Logan Marshall Green in The Invitation

Bit late for Hallowe’en, this, but horror films are for any time of year, and I hope the following links give you and me both some inspiration for viewing as the darkness sets in.

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I’m Tired Of Shouting For Help

When I worked at a certain major music and video retailer that no longer exists (the French would call it Ashemvay) I was more than happy to help people with disabilities who were shopping for items we stocked on the first floor, which was only accessible by stairs (not because it was a listed building, which is was and is, but because Irish disability legislation doesn’t mandate the provision of a lift). That’s not the point, of course; I’m sure they’d much rather have shopped for themselves. But we rarely think of that. #link


Weeknotes #789-795

It’s well and truly winter now, even though the leaves have only fallen in the last few weeks. I think the snow in some parts is sign enough, if not the calendar. It’s also fucking freezing, but on the plus side, that appears to have finally killed off the wasp nest in the extension that’s prevented me from mowing the back garden since midsummer. (And annoyed the shit out of us with dying wasps spontaneously appearing in the house.)

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Has JJ Abrams ruined plans to expand the Star Wars universe?

No, he hasn’t: Disney bosses have panicked because they don’t know what they have. Look at how they bungled Doctor Strange, an above-average superhero film that wasn’t screened for critics till days before it hit cinemas. They’re petrified of putting out anything that doesn’t match the tone of what’s come before, forgetting of course that recent genre smashes — even from other studios, like Deadpool — established said tone in the first place. The Force Awakens itself suffered from that fear, by compromising on the fresh take its first 45 minutes offered with a nostalgia trip for the rest of the flick. And how many people were talking about it even a month after release? I hope Rogue One retains the darker, Empire Strikes Back tone as it was allegedly conceived, but that remains to be seen, and it doesn’t look good from here, just four weeks out from release. #link


We Must Change: A Message To All Professional Wrestling Fans

There are variations of this kind of thing all over the web, and they’re indicative of a growing frustration with wrestling fandom that’s hard to articulate (in this case, the writer makes a category error in cleaving the fanbase between ‘casual’ and ‘smart’) other than saying that some people — the type who demand five-star matches, and only appreciate the ‘entertainment’ with ironic detachment — take things way too seriously. #link


Wikipedia entry for Shiritori

A Japanese word game in which the players are required to say a word which begins with the final kana of the previous word. Kinda like that game where one person starts with a word in a particular category, and you have to follow with another in the same category starting with the last letter of the first. That’s a convoluted explanation, but you know what I mean. #link


A Platform for Trolls

“Sensible people — people who care about things like acceptance and inclusion — were complaining about Katy Hopkins being on the show. They talked about how they weren’t going to watch the show, and everyone inside the same echo chamber of opinions repeated the same thing, over and over again. Meanwhile, the people who were insulated from the uproar, the people who don’t know who Katy is (or worse, the people that agree with her) just watched the show anyway. Along with, I’ll bet, a lot of the people who said they wouldn’t. And then come the complaints to RTÉ and the cycle continues.” Yep, I was part of that echo chamber, I’ll own that. It still rankles that RTÉ refused to entertain complaints before the programme, as if the prospect of sheer wrongness doesn’t count, but RATINGS. #link


Thinking out loud about the New Dark Age

Times Square

Rounding up some loosely connected thoughts on the last week’s tumultuous political happenings:

— You know the end of Caligula, when he and his family are murdered and the idiot Claudius is proclaimed the new emperor? I can’t quite put my finger on why the last few days remind me of that…

— Real talk, though: Trump’s win shows the dark side of democracy. That’s simply a statement of fact. When people make ill-informed choices, such are the results. That doesn’t mean democracy as a process is inherently flawed; it’s better than any alternative, in both philosophical and real-world terms. It’s the way it’s practiced that makes the difference.

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My Letterboxd reviews of Phantasm II, III and IV

Phantasm II:

It takes a good while for this belated sequel to get going, through a messy, meandering first half-hour that feels a lot longer, till all the pieces are in place for a souped-up showdown between our heroes and the nefarious Tall Man, gleefully icky and technically impressive (for its day) special effects and all.

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My Letterboxd reviews of Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, #Horror, Anguish, Father’s Day and The Baby

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion:

Stylistically confident by any measure, let alone for an exploitation sleaze-fest.

#Horror:

Who the hell called this #Horror when a far better title (Slashtag!) is staring you right in the face? It’s not even really a horror film, anyway, not until the last 20 minutes. Psychological thriller, then? Maybe, at a stretch, when most of it plays as a cyberbullying-themed tweenage drama with some blunt social commentary shoehorned in. First-time director (but long-time actor, fashion industry figure and multimedia artist) Tara Subkoff throws all her influences into the mix here, and it shows. More focus would help, but it’s hardly the worst film ever; these no-star reviews are taking the piss.

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My Letterboxd reviews of Best Worst Movie, Halloween II, The Witch and The Shout

Best Worst Movie:

That it’s made by one of the ‘stars’ of Troll 2, the ‘worst movie ever made’, is what steers this away from mocking hipster irony to give us a genuinely sweet and decidedly odd where-are-they-now documentary. That it centres on the charming actor-turned-dentist George Hardy as its hero, following his exploits as he drums up support for comedic revival screenings, is more luck than genius, but that’s fine, because Michael Stephenson knows what he’s got here. Not only an insight into the unconventional world of the jobbing actor, and the quirks of the convention circuit, it’s even got a pantomime villain in Claudio Fragasso, director of Troll 2 (it doesn’t even have any trolls in it!) and a man whose inflated ego won’t let him admit he was a purveyor of trash.

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My Letterboxd review of The Visitor

Reblogged from my Letterboxd list:

You probably wouldn’t expect an Italo-horror cash-in on the 1970s craze for demonic progeny (The Exorcist, The Omen) and young women with supernatural powers (Carrie, The Fury, etc) to have much identity of its own. And especially not when its biggest set pieces betray an obsession with Hitchcock’s The Birds. But The Visitor’s deeply strange story, rooted in a sci-fi interpretation of Abrahamic religious myth, stands apart from the typical rip-offs of the day.

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My Letterboxd review of Arrival

Reblogged from my Letterboxd list:

Arrival is definitely a Denis Villeneuve film, and it’s a beautiful one for the most part. The visuals are muted but constantly arresting, a stylistic contrast to the over-sharpened harshness of Sicario. Similarly, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s sound design is enveloping yet the drones don’t conjure a sense of claustrophobic unease as much as something bigger than we can comprehend. It’s full of allusions to Kubrick, Malick, Tarkovsky, even Spielberg, not to mention Villeneuve’s own films: the long tunnel shots of Sicario; the arachnoid preoccupations of Enemy. (And for his second film running, a strong female lead; Amy Adams carries the weight of the world on her shoulders here.) However, the last 20 to 30 minutes of the story require a leap of faith that I wasn’t prepared to make, and I don’t believe is earned. In trying to distill complex philosophical questions about language and meaning and self into something parseable in a two-hour movie, it drops the ball right when it matters most.


When Student Activists Refuse to Talk to Campus Newspapers

Naivety plus a propensity to compartmentalise the world into easily classifiable categories (intersectionality does not equal mutability, ding ding) is a dangerous equation. Let me put it another way: the media is not the monolith some perceive it to be. You want to be the change you want to see? You can do it through existing channels too, not solely via your own — indeed, the latter is arguably best avoided, because you’re probably blind to your own biases. #link