Synopses & Reviews
In an aside that reads like a declaration of intent, Anthony Lane writes that he "never quite thrilled to the battle pitched between mainstream and art cinema" which is to say that he glories in highbrow and lowbrow alike, and respectfully suggests that "the ideal literary diet consists of trash and classics...books you can read without thinking, and books you have to read if you want to think at all."
In almost ten years as a critic for The New Yorker, Lane has not only written an indispensable column on the latest movie releases, great and small. He has also turned his gaze upon subjects as various as Evelyn Waugh, Shakespeare, the glory of cookbooks, and the fine art of the obituary. Whether he is examining Alfred Hitchcock or astronauts, to read him is to be carried along on a current of urgent inquiry ("What is the point of Demi Moore?"), wry reflection, and penetrating wit. An essay on The Sound of Music leads him to consider not only singing nuns but the comedy of our cultural memories ("For all our searchings and suppressings, the past comes unbidden or not at all"); his now infamous pieces on the best-seller lists both celebrate the exultantly bad prose of Judith Krantz and deride the "marshes of the middlebrow, where serious novelists lumber around with too many ideas on their back." His writings on the poetry of Matthew Arnold, A. E. Housman, and especially T. S. Eliot showcase his erudition, dispensed with a piercing insight into human folly. In his survey of events as disparate as Oscar night, a Walker Evans retrospective, and the craziness of a Chanel show in Paris, the acuity of Lane's intellect is matched by a quality of heart that is hisalone, and by a willingness to be carried away. His writings remind us of what criticism can achieve at its best.
Arguably the most gifted reviewer at work today, Anthony Lane sets the standard as a reader, as a critic, and as an observer of life. Nobody's Perfect is a must for fans old and new.
"Those who have long awaited this compilation of Lane's most memorable pieces will not be disappointed. He is intellectual, witty, entertaining, and, without a doubt, one of the finest reviewers of our time....For critic-at-large wannabes, this collection will serve as a de facto guide for years to come." Library Journal
"752 pages of wall-to-wall pleasantry....The most frequent complaint of Lane is that he is too amiable, too nonconfrontational; even when he is deriding a film, he still sounds like some well-groomed scamp in a Noel Coward play....[Lane] tempers [his] exquisite prose with a breeziness that makes for an engaging, easy read." Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle
"Given the grumpy disarray of film criticism, it should come as little surprise that its dominant figure is The New Yorker's Anthony Lane, who invariably manages to convey delight at having such a cushy gig....His new collection of reviews, Nobody's Perfect (great title), exhibits him at his most enjoyable..." John Powers, L.A. Weekly
"I'm a critic, too, and here's my criticism: Lane writes so well and is so highly situated that he owes us, like Kael, something more. By gracing us with more supercilious style than trenchant analysis, he treats movies as being trivial and beneath him and as a result, that's what they become." Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly
"With savage wit and keen intellect, Lane can cut a film to pieces like an Iron Chef slicing a salmon....If there is a drawback to Lane's writing, it's that he is awfully reluctant to be as forthright when he likes something as when he dislikes it but that's a common critic's sin....That said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a contemporary American film critic more deserving of a collection." Brian Libby, Willamette Week (Portland, OR.)
Written with urgent inquiry, wry reflection, and penetrating wit, this is the much-anticipated collection of The New Yorker critic's most memorable pieces on film, literature, and culture.
About the Author
Anthony Lane has been a film critic for The New Yorker since 1993. He lives in London.