Neil Coppen

writings/ plays/ poetry/musings/travel journals and newspaper columns

The Hunger for Excellence


I am at a loss trying to write about Steve McQueen’s debut Camera d’Or winning film Hunger –and much has already been written on it. In a nutshell the film follows the death of an IRA hunger striker named Bobby Sands in Belfast’s claustrophobic maze prison in 1981.

McQueen, a visual artist, has a patient and poetic eye, an intuitive sense of how images work  alongside and against one another. Images with an accumulative cinematic clout that left me gasping. It was about twenty moments into the film that I had to press pause on the DVD and step outside to breathe and then sob.  Such emotion, while incited by the narrative events (and harrowing they are) was mixed with elation at the sheer artistry of it all.

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Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)


What do a philosophising frog farmer, a ropey plastic surgeon, a fat-cat politician and a professional kidnapper all have in common? You might be forgiven for thinking they are the odd ball line up of characters constituting the cast- list for the next Coen brothers film. These are however all too real peopleeach of whom plays a crucial role in the sprawling cycle of violence and corruption currently plaguing modern Brazil.

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Lucy Walkers award –winning documentary ‘Blindsight’ falls into that category of ‘triumph over adversity’ documentary films. Films that have the ability to shift perceptions, shake foundations and leave audiences quite literally changed by the time the credits have begun to roll. Such cinematic experiences encourage us to see the world differently or in this instance: to imagine what it would be like to not see it at all.

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