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


Tag: download

Film review — Moonfall

An aggressively artificial un-spectacle, with added knob-polishing at the feet of Elon Musk and some suspiciously conspicuous product placement for that Russian anti-virus brand that was cool 20 years ago. But at least the pacing was half-decent. More…

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Film review — Sundown

Ironically enough, for a meandering film with such a threadbare story, it goes deeper as an essay on social class than the shock and awe of the writer/director’s prior, much-maligned New Order. More…

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Film review — Beware: Children at Play

Craven remade Bergman’s The Virgin Spring as The Last House on the Left, so why not reboot Beowulf in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens… with cannibal children? Okay, I was sold on the killer-kids premise already but there really is a lot more going on here. I mean, it’s an enthusiastic yet amateurish backwoods slasher — from Troma, naturally — so I did not expect a meta-commentary on the aesthetics and function of fantastical fiction. Nor that brutally unforgiving denouement. If you go down to the woods today… actually on second thought, best not. More…

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Film review — Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Do you know what an ambiguous image is? Like that picture that’s a duck one way and a rabbit the other? That’s what this is. It’s not even a movie, really, let alone a horror movie. It’s mere content contrived to appeal to both sides of a perceived binary divide. A duck or a rabbit. A rabbit or a duck. More…

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Film review — Drive My Car

I haven’t read Murakami since 1Q84 burst that balloon, so I wasn’t familiar with the source material here. Turns out (!) the titular car is a red herring (as is the Beatles allusion, but so was Norwegian Wood). The real conceit, as embellished by Ryusuke Hamaguchi here, is a stage production of Uncle Vanya that serves as a multifaceted metaphor for all of the characters in one way or another. More…

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Film review — Demonic

The germ of a good idea (‘virtual reality exorcism’ has a lot of potential) is lost within a poorly fleshed-out script and student-film, make-do execution. It’s too late now, Blomkamp, you blew it. More…

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Film review — Dollman Vs Demonic Toys

What a mess. Some of the set pieces here betray at least the notion of enthusiasm, but at some point early on Charles Band must have got bored and settled for cobbling together a bunch of random half-assed takes till it made up a contractually obligated hour. It’s only remarkable for having an incredibly sleazy denouement, and for the soundtrack keeping that glam metal flame alive when grunge had long since conquered the industry. More…

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Film review — Demonic Toys

They kind of just threw everything at the wall with this one, didn’t they? An extended riff on the opening to Child’s Play with nods and winks aplenty to the Elm Street series, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby… it’s a lot, and somehow a lot less than the sum of its parts. More…

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Film review — Dollman

“Hey man, the script is great! A cop the size of a doll! Where does Band come up with this stuff? But, uh, it’s running a little short…”

“No problem, I’ll just copy-paste ‘fuck’ a few hundred times. That should do it.” 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

The combat is bloodless, the mood dour, the running time far too long. And the supernatural elements feel as out of place as the end titles referencing Enter the Void (I’m not kidding). Yet there are flashes of a decent action movie in here, despite the poor writing and weak direction. More…

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Film review — Lords of the Deep

Practical effects teams were at the top of their game in the late 1980s and the model work here is predictably top notch. Okay, maybe not the creature of the feature. As for everything else? The sets, the costumes? The cast? More…

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Film review — Grunt! The Wrestling Movie

This could have been a cheap cash-in on the rock ’n’ wrestling craze. Instead it’s…a mockumentary? Like if Paul Bartel made This Is Spinal Tap but about the Los Angeles territory. So, more surreally, blackly humorous than laugh-out-loud funny, then. And it gasses out before the climactic battle royal, alas. But there’s such effort here for a subject that wasn’t accustomed to respect when The Wrestler came out in 2008, let alone when this appeared in 1985. That’s absolutely fascinating to me. More…

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Film review — Censor

Excuse me for expecting something a little less by-the-numbers. Censor echoes the pervasive, literal darkness of similarly themed films like Berberian Sound Studio. But in this case, rather than bringing us into the protagonist’s paranoiac experience, the dream-like mood from the outset creates a distancing effect that dulls any effort to disturb and makes it impossible to connect with it on anything more than a superficial level. There’s substance here — the analogy of film censorship with the edits minds can make of memories affected by trauma is worth exploring — but it’s obscured by the style. More…

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Film review — Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema

Many years ago, a very good friend of mine burned me some CDs and DVDs of Category III stuff like Ebola Syndrome and Red to Kill but I misplaced the discs in a spring clean and two subsequent moves and I’ve still never seen them. I’ve probably missed my chance now I’ve aged out of my ‘transgressive’ phase, so this is the closest I can get. And it’s fine; passion for the subject and competent talking-head setups count for a lot as the substance is a bit threadbare. I’m also not sure how much anyone not already familiar with the wilder side of Hong Kong cinema will get out of it. For instance, it barely even acknowledges the magnificent Story of Ricky, and constantly references classics like The Boxer’s Omen without bothering to explain why they have the reputations they do. Isn’t that what documentaries like this are for? More…

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Film review — Zappa

It’s clearly made by someone (noted Blind Idiot God fan Alex Winter) with a passion for the work. But the presentation seems overly drab and stuffy for a musician whose music has such a zany reputation. Maybe that’s a problem of being too close to the thing, to feel like treating it in anything but the most reverent manner would be too frivolous or inappropriate when the opposite is more likely the case. More…

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Film review — The Net

Finally saw the whole thing after half-watching from midway through on Channel 4 one weekday afternoon a million years ago. It’s actually a decent story as these things go, but hangs on a hook so preposterous that it could only have allowed suspension of disbelief if it were set years ahead of right now, let alone 1995. More…

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Film review — In the Earth

Ben Wheatley essentially remixes A Field in England as a Nigel Kneale-style sci-fi horror for his most interesting project in years. More…

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Film review — Ape vs Monster

Why did I watch this?! It’s an Asylum production so I should have switched it off at the start; it’s a typically dull ‘mockbuster’ of theirs. I do have to say the two main women in the cast are pretty decent, especially given all the heavy lifting they have to do with the double burden of a rotten script and their shockingly poor male co-stars (Eric Roberts excepted, but he’s just there for the payday and the catering). More…

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Film review — Mortal Kombat

I’ve browsed so many reviews saying this is boring and I can only imagine it’s because the bombastic bullshit of the usual superhero action flick had broken their brains. Is it lower-key than you might be expecting? Sure. It holds a lot back, arguably too much. But it’s never boring. More…

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Film review — Hackers

Letterboxd says I watched this nine years ago but it clearly left zero traces. Nothing about it jogged my memory; indeed the biggest impression was just how much trouble the makers had in 1994 trying to visualise the concept of being, for lack of a better phrase, into computers. Which is funny because War Games did it pretty well a decade before. More…

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Film review — Jiu Jitsu

Recycled Predator plot notwithstanding, this had all the right ingredients — Tony Jaa, my boy Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan from Wu Assassins and crazy Nicolas Cage — but it needed to be much shorter and snappier. You know, like actual jiu jitsu. It also could have done without those silly comic book transitions; they didn’t work in the director’s cut of The Warriors and they don’t work now. More…

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Film review — Godzilla vs. Kong

I didn’t hate it, but it’s not what I was hoping for. Early response gave me the impression it was monster fights from start to finish, when in reality it’s a Kong movie that occasionally guest-stars Godzilla, and spends the bulk of its time with characters who are less point-of-view than pointless. Then when it does get to the colossal tussles, there’s nothing particularly creative about them — something that would have made up somewhat for the consistently distracting holes in its own logic. I can accept a lot in a movie about giant monsters pounding the stuffing out of each other, but not that much. Anyway. Meh. More…

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Film review — Boss Level

I have a lot of time for Frank Grillo, but this…is not the vehicle to showcase his talents. The premise demands relentless action; what we get is dragged down into dullsville by the ‘hero needs a family drama’ mandate. More…

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Film review — Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter gives me similar feelings to what I had with Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, in that I mostly enjoyed my time with it and I’m down for watching a sequel. But for a film with epic promise, it feels very small; the locations are samey (a desert and…another kind of desert) and I counted a total of five monsters, only three of which have any real bearing on the plot. The editing is also odd; some sections feel excessively trimmed, and the cutting of the action scenes leaves much to be desired — it’s Tony Jaa, for fuck’s sake, let him do his thing! Milla Jovovich is acceptable as ever; she’s never really lit the screen alight for me. Jaa does a lot of the heavy lifting in their buddy pairing, all the more impressive as his character doesn’t speak English. Also, Ron Perlman with anime hair (as my SO put it so accurately) scores bonus points. More…

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