BEGIN AGAIN REVIEW

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Better. We’re getting there. A nice film that delivers the feel good factor without laying on the cheese too much but not without its imperfections.

A somewhat slow burning opener turns into an easy going well acted and well sung summery movie with a different ending, if a little abrupt in my opinion. John Carney may not have surpassed Once but he hasn’t made a bad follow up. If Keira Knightley actually sang, then what a voice. Her voice with those Norah Jones-esque lyrics were sublime. She can’t stop doing the pouty face but a beaut all the same.

What’s it all about? A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive (Ruffalo) and a young singer-songwriter (Knightley) new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.

Knightley and Ruffalo are, to be expected, superb together. They have fantastic chemistry and work well off each other. Ruffalo is a very charismatic actor and has proven time and time again to be a reliable lead. He delivers the goods yet again. The time spent building up as to why these two characters are in their situations and meet at that point in their lives is a little long at the tooth but once we get the gist, it allows the film to flow a bit more and makes for good viewing.

The lyrics are well written, the songs are fantastic. A movie soundtrack that I would actually consider downloading. Carney catches the energy and buzz of New York City and uses it to his full potential. He even manages to have a cheeky pop at the music industry and the corporate labels. A nice commentary, if a little out of place in this feel good film. Hailee Steinfeld unfortunately seems to play the same estranged daughter role. I mean, if you have seen 3 Days to Kill, it is virtually the same character but replace the bike with an electric guitar.

Catherine Keener does her best but has such a mundane supporting role. Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine, on the other hand, do a great job. I mean they have proven that they can act in other movies (Hotel Transylvania for Green) and TV shows (American Horror Story for Levine) but it helps in bringing their characters to life. Levine, in particular, as the sleazy rock star lothario that breaks Knightley’s heart. Mos Def, unfortunately for me, was very dull and I always feel like he can’t be arsed to be in the film. Sighing and rolling his eyes and mumbling with no conviction.

James Corden was hilarious as Knightley’s comical side kick. He provides the usual spiel but it still works and brings the odd laugh. What was interesting is that with the attraction and chemistry between the leads and with these sort of films, you expected the inevitable. Only this time, it didn’t happen. A surprise but I felt that with this sort of film, I would have accepted it. And it all zips along and you’re getting into it; only for it to end quite openly and rather abrupt for me. It just seemed to fizzle out.

However, it’s fun, entertaining, easy going. Worth a watch 3.5/5 for me.

Currently ranked #49 out of 196!

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THE DARKNESS LIVE REVIEW! BLACK SHUCK!

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I saw The Darkness and it was great. But how I do I know? Well . . . because I was there. (One for the fans who have seen them live)

Slightly strange for a guy’s blog called the Mad Movie Ranter to be doing a music review. But hey let’s change things up. The review is a little late but alas, I suffered from the dreaded wintery man flu.

Full of cold and a mental week of work, the thought of seeing the Darkness was the last thing on my mind. A warm bed and Horlicks was more ideal (Lame. At 24?! I know). But I had bought the tickets months ago and my friends were already on the way to pick me up.

So glad I shook myself up. Absolutely brilliant. Perfect flu cure. Took a couple of days to get my hearing back. Good fun and a great laugh. The rock gods from Lowestoft are back and on fire. Conveniently, the lads were back at our local venue in Northampton, The Roadmender. A great venue that has had the pleasure of hosting such talents as Jamie T, Hadouken and The Wombats. (Probably not doing them justice with those examples, but first ones that came to mind. Make of that what you will).

Unfortunately missed one of the warm up acts, The River 68s but was able to listen to LostAlone. One to look out. Very good. They’ve been touring since 2007 with two albums already out there but if the new album is anything to go by with the new material that was performed, it should be pretty decent. Check out the single, Hostages.

As soon as the Lowestoft legends graced the stage, the tunes were unleashed and the chaos began. We were awarded with two sets – one covering a number of hits from the second and third albums respectively; some of my favourites One Way Ticket, She’s Just a Girl, Eddie and the incredible Radiohead cover, Street Spirit (Fade Out).

This was all before the legendary second set. That second set in which they would perform from start to finish in all its rock glory, PERMISSION TO LAND. Always will be their stand out album. Mixed reviews came thick and fast on One Way Ticket to Hell . . . and Back. But forever a grower and guilty pleasure for me. Come on, Dinner Lady Arms? A TUNE! Unfortunately, the band were not taking requests, gutted. But none the same, to hear PERMISSION TO LAND in its full live uncensored amp-induced, bass-floor-vibrating awesomeness was enough to suffice. I would list the hits but the whole album is incredible. Most notably Black Shuck, BLACK SHUCK, Get Your Hands off My Woman and I Believe in a Thing Called Love.

The big build ups between the sets were hilarious. From Ed Graham’s hugely anticipated drum solo (hint, hint) to the majestic summoning of the triangle, it was like something out of This is Spinal Tap. Cheap joke, maybe but funny all the same. What may have been drawn out slightly, (although I think the band were trying to catch a breath), was the listing of the number of awards and record sales. Egotistical? Showing off? Absolutely. But you can’t help but think did they really achieve all this? It hurts when people say it must be a fall from grace to be at the Roadmender.

The Darkness are back, alive and kicking. Their lyrics and songs were never going to change the world but their rifts were rocking and the lyrics hysterical. Growing on Me, for example, being a song about herpes. Something I didn’t realise, naively singing out in public, until I was in my 20s. Give me a break they were out in 2003. 2003? That’s right. That long ago already.

It was great to see them back together. You could tell they were having fun. Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain nailing those rifts to perfection (Bows, “We’re not worthy”) and as for Mr Justin Hawkins. An entertainer to the end. At one point he made the bouncer carry on his shoulders and walk around the audience while playing a guitar solo. He’s not afraid to banter with the fans and the crowd pumped.

Some would say twat, I say hilarious but Hawkins does not hold back, most notably on his views on new music. He really doesn’t like Bastille (which I admit I do. Rhythm of the Night is a great cover, but overplayed) and poor old Ellie Goulding. Hawkin’s impression was too good, not to smile. Apparently, new music is bad acoustics, a tap of a drum and weird accents. Apparently.

Hawkins may be a menace to work with, which past endeavours led to the band’s inevitable split, but one thing that can’t be knocked is his showmanship, energy and that voice. How can that tattooed, six foot lanky nutter from Lowestoft with his Dickensian villain moustache have such a powerful voice that runs in the vein of the great that is Freddie Mercury? Brilliant. Showing it off at every instance, goading the audience into mimicking him, only for us to fall short. Believe me, I tried.

And of course, the finale. How could they not finish it with Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) with a big old Christmas tree with an angel on top, wearing the face mask of the bass player, Richie Edwards, who replaced Frankie Poullian for One Way Ticket. Nice tribute. Oh and of course, a fat bald bloke throwing presents in a fairy dress, whilst the band rocked out in their Christmas clobber. Christmas well and truly in flow. A great show, good night, not even the six foot knob head in his Crocodile Dundee hat obstructing my view and trying to mosh with me could spoil it. (Wherever I stand, I get the six foot arse! I’m only five foot. A bloody hobbit. And the hat? You’re inside. TAKE IT OFF. RANT OVER! But like I said, didn’t spoil it, nope).

One (one bit too snazzy for a rock review) can only hope they will return shortly with a possible new fourth album? Rumour are circulating and a new single has been released, The Horn. We shall see but get your hands on some tickets motherrrfffuuucckeeeeerrrs (in operatic testicle-squeezing high pitchness).