Four Lions: Is Terrorism A Laughing Matter?

When crack comedy-writing duo Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain got into a room with Brass Eye provocateur Chris Morris, to discuss how to make a comedy about home- grown Islamist suicide bombers, no lines were drawn, and "anything", says Armstrong, when we meet in London, "was up for grabs".
They were clear, however, where their target lay: "None of us wanted to write a film ridiculing Islam or Muslims," Bain says. "But we did want to write a film ridiculing terrorists." Or, his writing partner interjects, suggesting "that there was a ridiculous nature to some of their actions".
They "weren't afraid" of offending Muslims, Bain claims (a few days before Islamic extremists make thinly veiled threats against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone); that just wasn't the point. And anyway, he and Armstrong, whose output includes Smack the Pony, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Old Guys, and the wonderful Peep Show, while Armstrong also worked on The Thick of It and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated spin-off In the Loop, are not writers who have made offence their stock-in-trade.
"We do not go around thinking, 'What's going to prick the bubble of pomposity of bourgeois society by pulling down our pants and showing them our thing they don't want to see?'" Armstrong laughs. "'We've shocked you now' is not really an impulse we're interested in."
Nor, they insist, is it Morris's modus operandi. He, nonetheless, became Public Enemy No 1 in some sections of the media, in 2001, following a Brass Eye special about child sex abuse called "Paedogeddon!". Knee-jerk reactionaries accused Morris of turning the issue into a sick joke, when, in fact, his real subject was the media-generated hysteria and moral panic that had made any kind of reasoned public discussion about paedophiles almost impossible. The backlash against the programme merely confirmed its thesis.

Read the full article at The Independent

Werner Herzog: Bad Lieutenant:

Interviewing Werner Herzog is a humbling experience. At 67, the director of Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: Wrath of God – and mysterious miniatures like Heart of Glass, where the cast famously acted under hypnosis – continues to work at a rate that makes one feel shamefully slothful in his presence.

In the 11 months prior to our meeting at the Venice Film Festival, he tells me, he has completed two feature films – Bad Lieutenant, a riff of sorts on Abel Ferrara's grungy 1992 cop drama of the same name, and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, filmed in China, Peru, Mexico and the United States, and executive produced by David Lynch. He has also staged an opera in Valencia, shot a short film in Ethiopia, and translated his book about the making of his Amazonian odyssey Fitzcarraldo, Conquest of the Useless, into English. He even managed to narrate a bizarre 18-minute short, directed by Ramin Bahrani, called Plastic Bag. The only thing he has not done, apparently, is watch a film. But then, he only sees two to three a year on average anyway. "Most of them real bad ones," he smiles.

Herzog's intellectual restlessness means that new ideas are assailing him all the time. "I'm sitting here with you and there are five or six other films that are like a home invasion," he says, his thick German accent seemingly undiluted by years of living in Los Angeles. They come to him like "burglars in the night," he continues. "At four in the morning I wake up and there's five unknowns in my kitchen. So my problem is that I have never been able to keep abreast with all the ideas and projects. I just do what is most urgent right now."

That he gets so much done is not because he is a workaholic, Herzog insists – "Please don't believe I am one"– but because he works "steadily and quietly", rather than chaotically. Such is his focus when he's directing that he does not need to plan scenes out on storyboards. "That's an instrument of the cowards," he sneers, "of those who do not know what they are doing." He knows exactly what he wants to see on screen, he says, and does not film anything he does not intend to use. "It's like open heart surgery. When you do open heart surgery, you don't go for the appendix, or you don't go for the toenails: I go for the heart."

Read the full article at The Scotsman