Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (2013)

Beyond_Beauty_-_Taiwan_from_Above

Beyond Beauty is a Taiwanese documentary produced by renowned director Hou Hsiao-Hsien and directed by aerial photographer Chi Po-lin. It consists entirely of aerial shots of Taiwan from the vantage point of a helicopter. We’ve wanted to see it ever since we watched the trailer showing off the crystal clear images of the best scenery that the island has to offer. Given how small and how heavily industrialized the island is, the variety and grandeur of the natural landscape can’t help but surprise and impress.

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Thief (1981)

Thief_1981

Drive was one of the most distinctive films of 2011 so when I learned that it borrowed liberally from this 1981 movie, that definitely put it on my radar. It also helps that I consider Heat , probably the film for which Michael Mann is most famous, to contain some of the best gunplay scenes ever captured on film. So right from the opening shot with the camera ever so slowly panning down a tenement block to the rain-slicked street at night, I felt right at home.

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Malaysian equity funds consistently beat the index

One of the most common ways that people arrive on this blog is apparently by searching for Malaysian index funds to invest in. Many more visitors than usual have arrived in recent weeks, no doubt due to the current volatility in the market. Apparently my two posts on the subject, this one and this one, rank quite highly on Google when these keywords are used. It is also evident many of these people, no doubt having read research about how index funds due to their low costs are better over the long run, are interested in finding more information about Malaysian index funds.

My own conclusion is not to bother and in fact empirical data indicates that the top equity funds in Malaysia really can beat the KLCI over the long term, even after costs. For example, working with the database available at Fundsupermart.com.my, I extracted the following for its recommended Malaysian equity funds. Note that all of these are annualized returns:

Recommended Malaysian Equity Funds at FSM

Fund Name1 Year2 Years3 Years5 Years10 Years
FBM KLCI-4.25%6.63%6.11%6.724%6.911%
Kenanga Growth Fund12.36%9.52%17.748%20.404%15.843%
Eastspring Investments Equity Income Fund4.47%7.15%15.109%14.835%10.837%
Kenanga Syariah Growth Fund0.01%7.73%10.921%15.395%13.372%
Affin Hwang AIIMAN Growth Fund0.01%10.10%14.061%12.828%10.038%

As a rationalist, it does frustrate me that such seeming anomalies exist. Not every equity fund outperforms the index, but as far as I can tell, most actually do over the long term, which is surprising according to the literature. I don’t pretend to know how this can be possible and I’ve already discussed some of the possible reasons in those old posts. But it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Malaysian stock market must be very inefficient at uncovering market information.

A disclaimer: currently I am not personally an investor in any of the funds listed above. I do invest with FSM but only in their international funds. I instead have Malaysian equity funds in Public Mutual for legacy reasons and invest in the local stock market on my personal account. My data for my personal investing record is limited but a preliminary indication is that I outperform the KLCI as well but underperform the best equity funds.

The Signal (2014)

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Normally, there are several reliable warning signs to look out for to tell whether a particular science-fiction film deserves to be taken seriously. One is whether or not it knows its stuff when it talks about hacking computers. The Signal passes this test. Another is how closely the protagonist hews to the Hollywood action hero stereotype. Here Brendon Thwaites plays MIT student Nic Eastman who has muscular dystrophy. He looks dorky enough to just about pass muster and fallible enough on his crutches to drop the coffee he has just bought.

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Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994)

Three_Colors-Red

The two previous entries of the trilogy starred female leads who were already known to me. Rouge stars Irène Jacob, an actress I know nothing about and who seems to have become famous mainly since appearing in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s previous film La Double vie de Véronique. Yet she is easily the most beautiful and charming of the three. Appropriately enough, for as some reviewers have put it, she plays the role of Beauty against Truth as incarnated in the person of Jean-Louis Trintignant’s Joseph Kern.

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All That Heaven Allows (1955)

ATHA01

For all that I constantly rag on about the shallowness and mediocrity of most Hollywood films, I continue to be impressed by how thoroughly they’ve mastered the essentials of film-making so long ago. All That Heaven Allows, a film that was considered unremarkable at the time of its release is, I think, a good case in point. Even without considering any of the more subtle messaging that may or may not be present, it’s a solid movie that impresses with its sumptuous visuals, competent acting, excellent cinematography and just enough of a twist to the conventional formula to make a romance story refreshing.

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Trois couleurs: Blanc (1994)

White_Poster

When I wrote about the first part of this trilogy, I mentioned how each film corresponds with a colour of the French national flag but didn’t talk about how each colour also corresponds with one of the values of the French national motto. In the case of Bleu, I found its interpretation of liberty in a personal sense to be interesting but not especially insightful. In the case of Blanc, it is impossible to see it as anything other than an explicit attempt at the restoration of equality.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living