Movie Review – Superman Returns

Superman being shot at

If you are looking for a big budget movie that doesn’t disappoint, look no further. Superman Returns is a powerful, emotional, subtly funny movie that reminds you why going to the movies is still worth paying for.

Newcomer Brandon Routh gives a great performance as Superman/Clark Kent. He is strong, but has feelings, and can see that the world isn’t always black and white. Veteran character actor Kevin Spacey puts in a credible performance as Lex Luthor – not as over the top as some comic villains, clearly tortured by his past encountours with the “man of steel.”

The rest of the cast does a good job, but really are a backdrop to the Superman-Luthor struggle, a human context for the supernatural events unfolding.

Anyway, I don’t want to analyse the movie too much. It was really enjoyable. The special effects were tops, the soundtrack wasn’t overdone, the direction seemed spot on. Also, there is enough of a flashback to explain what’s going on to those of us who haven’t seen Superman I & II in 20 years.

Highly recommended.

Mediterranean Kitchen

Lamb Kafta

Got invited out for dinner on Saturday. The venue was The Mediterranean Kitchen on Church St, Parramatta. The food was okay tasting, when it eventually arrived.

It is hard to enjoy your meal when it does not arrive until 9:30pm, when you were seated at 6:30 and had ordered by 7pm. Having a look at the reviews on Eatability, most people have had similar experiences – the food was nice, but whether they enjoyed their evening was dependent on whether they got good service.

I don’t want to be too negative, but my guests would get upset with me if I did similar at my own house, and I wouldn’t then be expecting them to pay for the privilege. No $6 beers at Dan’s house, that’s for sure.

Also I think Amy struggled to enjoy her kafta – lebanese rissoles, kind of. Once you got past the appearance it was okay, I believe.

The Beer Factory

Pilsner in glass

Driving past the old Transfield site on Station Road, Seven Hills, a friend of mine noticed a sign on the side of the road saying “Brew your own beer here” and asked if I knew what it was all about. Was it just another home brew shop, or something different?

Definitely something different. The Beer Factory is like a commercial grade microbrewery, where consumers like you and I can walk in off the street and make a batch of beer. Continue reading “The Beer Factory”

Movie review – Pirates 2

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 poster

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 starts off slowly, but soon warms up into a fun romp with pirates, parrots and the undead.

It is a bigger and better movie than the original in every aspect bar one: originality, but why change a good thing when you are on to it?

It is a little bit like the Star Wars movies in that there is only one female character of any note, the main plotline being around two mismatched buddies fighting the evil empire.

To find out what it’s about, visit the official site or one of the many reviews available on Google.

The brief version has our rag-tag collection of anti-heroes looking for a supernatural treasure to escape a fate worse than death, mixed up with cannibals, mermen and the East India Trading Company. Similarly to the first movie, corporations are more evil than thieves, indicating that it is not your action that is wrong, merely the scale of it.

Suffice it to say seing this movie is a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon near your loved ones but not talking to them.

2.5 stars

Responsible car shopping

Renault Clio

I spent most of Saturday traipsing around Parramatta looking at the different new cars you can get for $20-25 thousand Australian dollars.

If you are also in the market, you could do worse than buy one of these:

My surprise of the day was discovering how good the Renault cars (Megane sedan and Clio Privilege) were, and how poor the service was at Hyundai.

My credit union has published a guide called Buying a car on your terms. The section under negotiation is reprinted below:

Negotiating

There are three things you should be when dealing with a seller: honest, friendly and firm.

Remember that a dealer is in the business of selling cars and is, presumably, good at it. Some private sellers are also pretty persuasive. But remember that it’s your money and your decision. Don’t be talked into something that doesn’t make sense. And never allow yourself to be hassled by aggressive techniques. If you don’t feel comfortable, leave. If you do stay, perform a thorough road-test, do the other checks, and start negotiating.

Buyers can be as guilty of bending the truth as anyone else. A surprisingly high number are afraid to say “it’s too dear” or “no, I’m not interested”. Instead they pretend they will come back later. This is a waste of everybody’s time. If you say “I like the car but unless you can do better on the price, I think I should keep looking”, you may find that the seller is prepared to accept less.

Another thing worth doing is to leave your name and phone number. It shows you are serious and gives the other party the opportunity to phone you later if they change their mind about accepting a lower price.

Don’t be rushed. Hasty decisions are often poor ones, and there are very few offers in the car world that won’t still be available in the morning. A night’s reflection can do a world of good.

Budget

While I’m here, I might put a plug in for the online budget calculator at Infochoice. Simple, but a handy help to figuring out where your money goes. Remember, though, garbage in = garbage out.