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


Tag: streaming

Film review — Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror

I can’t help but see this as a genre-specific deep-dive companion piece to Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film project. It’s clearly made by someone with a solid sense of the sociopolitical context of horror (I was going to say ‘horror cinema’, but this covers plenty of made-for-TV productions in its wide remit) and interprets folk horror in particular as an idea that varies depending on its cultural milieu (in Britain, age against youth, urban against rural and so on; but a post-colonial spectre in America and Australia) yet sharing common threads, like the tension between ‘tradition’ and ‘progress’. More…

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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 — 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 — 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 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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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