It could be just a figure of speech, but it is also a hyperbolic way of acknowledging the momentarily disruptive impact of art on the equilibrium of everyday consciousness. To say that something changed your life is also to say that it exceeded your available categories of experience. You are in a zone beyond the charm of the beautiful or even the terror of the sublime, in a territory that cannot be marked by the usual signs of ‘I liked it’ or ‘Hey, that was nice.’
— A.O. Scott

 ( * Recommended )


June 2018



Stand by Me by Rob Reiner (1986)
Submergence by Wim Wenders (2017)
Hostiles by Scott Cooper (2017)
The Machinist by Brad Anderson (2004)
Ocean's 8 by Gary Ross (2018)

History Books

Documentary research on Sarawak

Footsteps in Malaysia: 1914-1963 by Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr. Ong Kee Hui



Adele Exarchopoulos (of La Vie d'Adèle / Blue Is the Warmest Color fame) and Matthias Schoenaerts in Le Fidele (2017)

May 2018


The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman (2018)*

history books

Documentary research on Sarawak

Chinese Politics in Sarawak: A Study of the Sarawak United People’s Party by James Chin Ung-Ho (1997)
The White Rajahs of Sarawak: A Borneo Dynasty by Bob Reece (2001) 
The Name of Brooke: The End of White Rajah Rule in Sarawak by Bob Reece (1982)
White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke by Nigel Barley (2002)

Documentary research on Konfrontasi

Britain and the Confrontation with Indonesia, 1960-66 by David Easter (2004)


Red Sparrow by Francis Lawrence (2018)
Le Fidele / Racer and the Jailbird by Michael R. Roskam (2017)
Maryland / Disorder by Alice Winocour (2015)
Solo: A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard (2018)
The Ottoman Lieutenant by Joseph Ruben (2017)

TV drama

Westworld, S2 (2018)


The Story of Diana (2017)
Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy (2017)

April 2018

Clip: Once Upon a Time in America (1984) by Sergio Leone

history books

Documentary research on Sarawak

The Rising Moon: Political Change in Sarawak by Michael B. Leigh (1974)
Deals, Datus and Dayaks by Michael B. Leigh (forthcoming)
Malay Politics in Sarawak, 1946-1966: The Search for Unity and Political Ascendancy by Sanib Said (1985)


On the Troubles in Northern Ireland

Ordinary Decent Criminals by Lionel Shriver (1993)*


Once Upon a Time in America by Sergio Leone (1984)*
The Death of Stalin by Armando Iannucci (2017)
The Greatest Showman by Michael Gracey (2017)


Bobby Kennedy for President by Dawn Porter (2018)*


Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon by Larry Tye, read by Marc Cashman (2016)

Let me lay it on the line: I like movies, and approach them with a tolerance so fond that it will possibly strike you as simple-minded. To engage my glazed attention a movie need be no classic of its kind, need be neither L’Avventura or Red River, neither Casablanca nor Citizen Kane; I ask only that it have its moments.
— Joan Didion


Trailer: Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts (2017) by Indonesian filmmaker Mouly Surya — a "satay western"


March 2018

The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

History book

Documentary research on Sarawak

The White Rajahs of Sarawak by Robert Payne (1960)


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Tim Burton (2016)
Black Panther by Ryan Coogler (2018)
Home Again by Hallie Meyers-Shyer (2017)
Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig (2017)
The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro (2017)
I, Tonya by Craig Gillespie (2017)
Darkest Hour by Joe Wright (2017)
Tulip Fever by Justin Chadwick (2017)
Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts by Mouly Surya (2017)*
Kingsman: The Golden Circle by Matthew Vaughn (2017)
Annihilation by Alex Garland (2018)
Mother! by Darren Aronofsky (2017)
Jimmy's Hall by Ken Loach (2014)
The Thirteenth Floor by Josef Rusnak (1999)*
In Bruges by Martin McDonagh (2008)*

On the Troubles in Northern Ireland

Five Minutes of Heaven by Oliver Hirschbiegel (2009)
Maze by Stephen Burke (2017)


February 2018

Clip: Intermission (2003)



Lady Chatterley's Lover by Jed Mercurio (2015)
Battle of the Sexes by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (2017)
Intermission by John Crowley (2003)*
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh (2017)
Ola Bola by Chiu Keng Guan (2016)

TV dramas

Medici: Masters of Florence, S1 and 2 (2016)
The Frankenstein Chronicles, S1 (2015)

History Books

On the Troubles in Northern Ireland

Remembering the Troubles: Contesting the Recent Past in Northern Ireland, edited by Jim Smyth (2017)
Belfast Taxi: A Drive through History, One Fare at a Time by Lee Henry (2012)
Belfast '69: Bombs, Burnings and Bigotry by Andrew Walsh (2015)

January 2018

Clip: Jack O’Connell in ‘71 (2014)


On the Troubles in Northern Ireland


Disorder by Gerard Brennan (2018)

History Books

Making Sense of the Troubles by David McKittrick and David McVea (2000)
A Short History of the Troubles by Brian Feeney (2014)


Mickybo & Me by Terry Loan (2004)
'71 by Yann Demange (2014)*
Bloody Sunday by Paul Greengrass (2002)
Good Vibrations by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn (2012)


Molly's Game by Aaron Sorkin (2017)
The Disaster Artist by James Franco (2017)*
Sanctuary by Len Collin (2016)
Starred Up by David Mackenzie (2013)*
Unbroken by Angelina Jolie (2014)
All the Money in the World by Ridley Scott (2017)
Jane Got a Gun by Gavin O'Connor (2015)


You can find any number of definitions of culture but, to my mind, it’s something like the public exchange of feelings, ideas and arguments about how we experience and try to understand our world. This matters profoundly. Culture is the sound of society talking to itself; becoming itself. It is essentially conversational and endlessly mutating. It is how we ascribe meaning to our relationships and communities. It is a large part of what societies, if they are lucky, leave behind them when they end.
— Ben Walters