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


Category: Screen

Film review — Crippled Avengers

Not the most enlightened premise in this day and age. But the pace is near breathless, and the choreography truly exceptional. Like, Rogers-and-Astaire-but-kung-fu good. More…

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Film review — The Super Bob Einstein Movie

Two things: one, I was aware of Super Dave as a bit from late-night talk shows but I did not realise until shockingly recently that he was Albert Brooks’ brother; and two, he’s legitimately funny without the unfortunate compulsion for “dialect comedy”, as its phrased so euphemistically here. More…

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Film review — Shaolin Temple

Hate to say I found this one a bit slow-going until the Wooden Men Alley sequence; that’s when the fightin’ starts and never lets up for the entire second half. More…

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Film review — The End of Evangelion

I had to read about five Wikipedia articles to get a handle on the story before I could even start with this, despite having watched the original series not so long ago, so yeah, it’s one of those. More…

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Film review — Red Lights

I’m convinced I at least half-watched this before but if I have it’s been erased from my memory. Proof enough of the existence of psychic powers, if you ask me. More…

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Film review — The Sparks Brothers

There’s a glimpse of Steven McDonald in the last half hour that teases a parallel universe where there’s another version of this film but it’s about Redd Kross. More…

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Film review — Old

It’s got the same problem as The Happening, and The Village, and most of Shyamalan’s ‘big’ movies in that an attempt at serious human drama clashes with a preposterous premise, and the results are expectedly muddled. I much prefer the fake Wikipedia plot where this turns out to be a sequel to Lady in the Water and shit gets even crazier after the credits roll. More…

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Film review — Don’t Look Up

There’s so much to ridicule about this pitiful excuse for a satire, but maybe the most egregious is that no one gets cut off for swearing on TV. More…

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Film review — The Boxer from Shantung

It’s got more politicking than fighting, and I’ve been distracted this week so it took me a few goes to get through. But if you want a masterclass in vengeance-fuelled resilience, the last half hour is for you. More…

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Film review — King Boxer

Diving (digitally) into Arrow’s Shawscope box set, and this one is the first in the list. There’s a hint of Iko Uwais in Lo Lieh’s determined martial arts student who finds himself embroiled in a clash between honourable tradition and shady politics. The fight scenes are where it’s really at, though, and it’s no surprise to see why this sparked such a craze in ’70s America. More…

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Film review — VFW

Grumpy old men and a bolshy young wan besieged by a zombie-like drug-addled horde and their uber-villainous kingpin? So much, so Assault on Precinct 13. That Carpenter vibe extends to the soundtrack by Zombi’s Steve Moore, too. Sounds pretty good, right? If only they’d shot it with cameras with better light sensitivity, because I could barely see a fucking thing. More…

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Film review — Baadasssss!

In substance? Brilliant stuff. Mario Van Peebles making a biopic about his revolutionary film-maker dad? Pure poetry. But it’s shot like a Hallmark movie, which is an insult to the subject matter. More…

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Film review — Hell on Earth: The Desecration & Resurrection of The Devils

This is not a criticism of the film itself. But it’s striking to me, some 20 years after this was produced, that among all the pontification about the controversy surrounding Ken Russell’s provocative work, what goes conspicuously under-examined is the notion of a parade of mostly elderly men excusing the discomfort of women (often “girls” in their parlance) who were exploited — in both the highest and lowest senses of the term — in the name of ‘art’. Our understanding of consent has come along way since the turn of this century, let alone the early 1970s. More…

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Film review — Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth

Did I see this at an IFI Horrorthon? It seems like something that might’ve happened. Nothing shocking about it, to be honest; it’s merely a succession of talking heads sharing their recollections of making a movie on a shoestring budget in a hot Texas summer. It’s the movie itself that’s truly disturbing. More…

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Film review — Broadcast Signal Intrusion

Imagine seeing Videodrome and being so profoundly disturbed that you have to make your own version of it, to exorcise or overcome its power over you, but the results are ultimately pedestrian because you can’t quite go there, for fear of losing yourself to it. That’s what this feels like. More…

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Film review — Deep Red

Watched the original Italian version, which appears to play a bit more fast and loose with the tone but also, at least based on comparison of the first few minutes, retains more of the creative cinematography lost to some brutal editing in the international cut. More…

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Film review — Dune

Right, so. I watched this at home. No, you can’t shame me. Some of you people talk about the cinema being so necessary to the experience as if any movie gets more than a few weeks before it has to live or die on its reputation on home video. Anyway, it looks like an eye-wateringly expensive streaming series more than a blockbuster motion picture, its often hauntingly beautiful composition notwithstanding, so no big loss. More…

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Film review — Halloween Kills

It seems David Gordon Green responded to criticisms that his Halloween reboot lacked character development to accompany Michael Myers’ killing spree by going to the other extreme and lining up a succession of perfectly genial if not genuinely sweet townsfolk of all ages to be brutally murdered in the most ghastly, gratuitous and mean-spirited fashion. More…

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Film review — The Velvet Underground

Others brighter than me have pointed out that this is more a portrait of the 1960s New York arts scene in toto than one focused specifically on the band, and that makes sense as the narrative rushes to a close once that scene implodes. More…

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Film review — The Brain

The Brain is A Nightmare on Elm Street made in the style of David Cronenberg but with the sensibility of Stuart Gordon, or even Larry Cohen, which will make more sense having watched it. Unfortunately the movie runs out of steam way before the final act; the budgetary limits really show. However the central concept (telepathic, presumably alien brain monster vs strong-willed teen) is a neat one, as derivatively as it’s realised here, and ripe for another attempt if someone wants a go. More…

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Film review — Frog Dreaming

If you’ve snagged the ET kid for your Aussie adventure flick, well, you’ve gotta make him cry! Seriously, though, this has a charming quirkiness that more than compensates for a premise no more grand than a CBBC mystery series from the days before satellite and cable ruined terrestrial children’s TV. And what closes the circle is knowing the girl who plays Jane would sing the theme for Round the Twist which you are already playing in your head right now, aren’t ya? More…

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Film review — Greta

That bit where the cop says Greta has the right to haunt Frances from across the street with a telephoto lens if she wants to? Kayfabe broken, fuck this movie. More…

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Film review — Spandex Sapiens

This almost-documentary follows the exploits of a man who straddles multiple worlds. Michael Majalahti grew up in Canada but lives in Finland, the homeland of his preacher father. He’s got the kind of career kids sometimes imagine for themselves: a rock singer by day and pro wrestler by night (or is that the other way round?). He’s a nifty comic artist in the Jerry Lawler school, too. Oh, and he’s also a sexist jerk with really narrow-minded if not toxic ideas about masculinity. More…

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Film review — Sisters with Transistors

Wonderful to put faces and voices to sounds I’ve been reading about in The Wire for many years. However, it feels contradictory to complain that Wendy Carlos refused to transcend the musical forms of dead white men by performing Bach on synths, when Delia Derbyshire’s best known for the distinctly melodious theme for Doctor Who and Suzanne Ciani made a living from advertising jingles. If your thesis is “the avant-garde versus mainstream expectations of what music is”, then maybe stick with it? More…

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Film review — New Order

It’s bleak because each of these horrors has happened somewhere in the world in my lifetime and will probably continue to happen. Because power corrupts. More…

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Film review — Malignant

I’ll be charitable about the “giallo” thing as maybe that reviewer was reaching for “grand guignol”? Anyway, this is basically a mashup of Cronenbergian Henenlotterian body horror and De Palma-esque plot fuckery turned up to 11. More…

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Film review — Retribution

A suicidal artist gets possessed by the spirit of a vengeful mobster. That’s the plot, in a nutshell, but Retribution is a lot more than that. For one thing, it’s got that same New Yawk scuzz that makes Street Trash such a treat (even though it’s set in LA?). More…

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Film review — Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James

The film-makers dance around the question of whether Rick James became a monstrous asshole because of all the drugs, or whether he was attracted to the drugs because he was a monstrous asshole. But the talent is undeniable, as is the fact that racism made him a one-hit wonder in the general historical record. More…

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Film review — FM

I guess one person’s independent, counter-culture spirit is another’s corporate AOR with a side of rampant sexism. Just think that while these goobers were jamming to Jimmy Buffett, somewhere about 20 miles away the bands that would become Black Flag and the Minutemen were woodshedding for a real revolution. More…

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Film review — Yakuza Princess

Here’s a neat idea squandered. A lot less forgettable “my past…my destiny” drama clichés and a lot more of that flashy, occasionally inventive action might’ve done the trick. As would’ve cutting about 20 minutes. More…

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Film review — Battle Royale II: Requiem

Not that it makes up for the superficial, uninspired plot, but the blatant anti-US sentiment — with straight references to Afghanistan — make this one a real “oh daaaaamn” watch in 2021. More…

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