I think we in the UK were lucky to have a film critic such as Barry Norman. The doyen of movie reviewers.
The long time presenter of the BBC Film review series, He etched himself in the nation's consciousness. If Barry liked a movie then it must be good.
This instalment of Talking Pictures was shown as a tribute to Barry Norman who died in 2017. It was presented by impersonator Rory Bremner who used to mimic Barry Norman and coined the phrase 'why not.'
Barry Norman started out as a journalist and was the son of producer and director Leslie Norman. Barry thought being in a movie set was boring, his passion was cricket. What I was reminded from this program was just how good he was with words.
When I used to watch the Film series especially as a kid. I did think Barry could be sniffy about populist films, especially action movies. There was clip here where he is derisive of Grease.
Now I am older I understand why. Barry had seen it all before, they were done better in the past with finer actors. He once said that when he saw modern westerns made in the 1980s, the actors looked like they had never even seen a horse before.
Barry might sometimes get lost in nostalgia. He once wrote how much he liked John Boorman's film Hope and Glory as it reminded him so much of his childhood.
Like Boorman, Barry was a kid during the second world war and remembered playing in the rubble of bombed out sites. However he also noted how much his father disliked the same movie. Leslie Norman had a different recollection of the war. Those bombed out houses contained people living in them who might have been killed. There were soldiers dying fighting the war in Europe and elsewhere.
Barry Norman noted the increase in violence in movies in the 1970s. Although Dirty Harry or Taxi Driver underlined the violence with a serious message. It was just that they would be followed by copycat movies with no message.
I always found it remarkable that his movie of the 1980s was the arthouse; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. A critique of the Thatcherite greed is good decade.
This does not mean he was always dismissive of anything new. Barry was an early champion of Eddie Murphy. He noted what a close escape the world had when the original lead Sylvester Stallone passed the role in Beverly Hills Cop.
He had little time for populist movies cynically taking over the Cannes film festival. Where the likes of Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger just turn up to promote their latest blockbusters.
Jonathan Ross took over the BBC's Film series after Barry left in 1998. Ross knew he was stepping into some giant sized shoes. The review show was never the same but Ross did it his way and he was at least a movie aficionado with great knowledge of cultist and far eastern cinema.
It was Ross's successor who seemed to know little about movies, just seeing it as another presenting gig.
Ironically Barry Norman's final review was for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. It was for the Radio Times magazine and published after his death. His father had directed Dunkirk in 1958.
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