The Dialogue feature in the new edition of Standpoint, out today, is a conversation about the state of cinema between the Observer critic and film historian Philip French, and Peter Whittle, Standpoint's critic and NCF director:
Philip French: '.. there are a great many films being made now of value, but there are fewer peaks I think. And also, it's about the way that people talk about the cinema now, and I'd agree with something that you've actually said earlier, Peter - that people almost refuse to experience them deeply. A few tears perhaps on the right occasions, but not actually to make the cinema part of their spiritual and intellectual fodder. '
Peter Whittle: 'I think that we saw the absolute apotheosis of nihilism for me in the great Tarantino wave in the '90s, and more recently the Coen wave. When you look at Pulp Fiction OK you can admire its cleverness. But what is it about? It's so nihilistic. I found this, too, with No Country for Old Men. Ultimately, there's a dislike of humanity there, there's a kind of coldness, there's a nothingness. That was the one time I felt alienated from the mainstream of films, or at least from the films that were critically very much in the frame.'
You can read the feature here.
Elsewhere in the magazine Peter reviews Valkyrie and The Reader.
'The one message conveyed in this otherwise straightfoward, uncomplicated film is that the conspirators were acting out of a need to put an end to an ongoing crime against their country, that, in the words of Kenneth Branagh's General Tresckow, they needed to "show the world that we were not all like Hitler".
This kind of future-retrospective dialogue is common in historical films with an eye on the present, and it jars. It also tends to give credence to the view - brilliantly rebutted by Daniel Goldhagen's 1996 book Hitler's Willing Executioners - that Nazism was somehow something done to the Germans. Which jars even more.'