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


Tag: offsite

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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Film review — G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Zero recollection of my previous viewing a decade ago. Mind you I can barely remember it now a mere two hours after seeing it again. My main takeaway is that it somehow looks cheaper than a mid-’90s IP flick like Street Fighter despite being made in 2009. 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 — Bob and the Monster

This is a a personality profile rather than a rockumentary, and on the face of it there’s nothing particularly unique about the subject. He’s the frontman of an LA band who got big into smack and decided he was the centre of the universe. Big whoop. More…

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Film review — CODA

My tolerance for Glee-esque contemporary vocal gymnastics is low. Thankfully that’s only a garnish on what’s at root a pleasingly old-school family drama, and one that centres the challenges faced by the Deaf community in a hearing world that all but ignores them. It’s tied up a little too neatly at the end, but not cynically so. More…

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Film review — Jolt

This would’ve worked for me if they’d just set it in London instead of some bizarro version of America where Brits fake it with terrible Yank accents — and if nearly everyone in it weren’t such a thoroughly obnoxious arsehole. More…

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Film review — Jungle Cruise

Both a pale shadow of its influences (almost entirely absent the ‘mild peril’ that makes them so memorable) and so close to the Platonic ideal of a theme-park movie. The blatant artificiality of the environment even helps in regard to the latter. More…

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Film review — Sister Street Fighter

She’s a street fighter, alright, and also a house fighter, a dungeon fighter, a mountain fighter, a rope-bridge fighter…there’s never a dull moment. And it’s ridiculously well composed for what’s essentially an exploitation cash-in. More…

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Film review — Dead or Alive

Despite its many and varied excesses, this remains one of Takashi Miike’s more accessible Yakuza-themed crime thrillers. No, I’m deadly serious. Just think of the ending as a metaphor. More…

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Film review — First Cow

I was so not in the mood to watch this; my attention waned from time to time and it took me a while. Some stories require the right mindset more than others. Nevertheless it’s a beautiful film in its appreciation of nature, in its raw simplicity (that invites multiple readings), even in its agonising sadness. 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 — The Tomorrow War

Half this movie is dreary combat porn for FPS heads. The other half’s a bunch of cut scenes to spout dodgy totalitarian philosophy. Threaded through it is a plot that rips off everything from the Alien prequels to Arrival, of all things. The whole endeavour’s calculatedly cynical, without an ounce of wit to it. More…

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Film review — Greenland

Gerard Butler’s penance for Geostorm. It holds too close to the small-scale family drama for such a cataclysmic premise and its plot beats are laughably predictable, but in a weird way that makes it work better for watching at home. 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 — Old Joy

Yo La Tengo are objectively great, but why would you get them to soundtrack your film when Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is…right there? Anyway, this is a deceptively simple piece that’s ostensibly about two used-to-be-closer friends hanging out on a weekend in the woods. One (Will Oldham) is a free-spirit type who’s found himself cast adrift while the other (Daniel London), and most everyone else he knows, has settled down. It smartly plays on the stereotype of the social misfit who sells out and conforms to society’s expectations — getting a job and a house, starting a family and all that — when it’s really Oldham’s Kurt who is trapped playing his own role and has condemned himself to a lonely, transient existence, while London’s Mark hasn’t so much changed his philosophy as found a different way to express it and be fulfilled. There’s no message of hope or grief to take away from it; it just is what it is. 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 — Sputnik

This Russian sci-fi horror has a decent premise and appropriately bleak setting and all that, but the execution is half-baked, full of logic holes and worst of all terrifically dull. More…

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Film review — The Doors

This is not a knock on Val Kilmer or the rest of the cast, but two hours of Jim Morrison’s insufferable bullshit is just too much. Still, was nice to see Michael Wincott who is a gentleman and a scholar. More…

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Film review — No New Kinda Story: The Real Story of Tooth & Nail Records

DVD extra-standard hagiography of the pioneering US Christian rock label. I would have preferred a deeper examination of its place in the indie label environment and how it straddled the worlds of ‘Christian music’ (as a distinctly US phenomenon) and ‘secular’ rock, punk, hardcore, etc. That it doesn’t even bother to explain what the Cornerstone festival was shows the level we’re at here. I know more now than I did before, sure, but there’s another film to be made here. More…

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Film review — Piercing

You can’t just slap on the themes from Tenebre and Profondo Rosso like it’s the seasoning that makes your dish. Maybe work on the ingredients and their preparation first. More…

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