“Lane writes the way Fred Astaire danced; his sentences and paragraphs are a sublime, rhythmic concoction of glide and snap, lightness and sting.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Anthony Lane has energy, wit, taste, learning, and (most signally) elegance of mind.” —Martin Amis
“A pure pleasure to read.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
Whether he's rhapsodizing about Julia Roberts, dissecting Clive Cussler novels, or evoking the the magic of Billy Wilder, Anthony Lane writes with the perceptiveness, wit, and enthusiasm of a born critic. His columns in The New Yorker don't knock you over with erudition; they coax you into alertness with apt anecdotes, images, and insights. Where others see only entertainment, Lane detects moral equations: His examination of contemporary romantic comedies, for instance, exposes the societal reasons behind their decline. That's not to say that this wordmeister is shy about his personal opinions: His scathing attack on Alan Folsom's The Day After Tomorrow, for example, cries out to be read aloud. We're happy that they have collected these articles: Now we can throw out all those magazine clippings.
English critic Lane is a tall glass of wit served extra dry.
The title phrase of Lane's fabulous collection of reviews and profiles is taken from Some Like It Hot, uttered by the unflappable Osgood Fielding III when he finds out his flame isn't a dame. That sense of bittersweet glee is also felt throughout Lane's reviews, as he skewers the likes of Sleepless in Seattle, Poetic Justice and The Scarlet Letter with gusto. Not content to waste precious words on bad movies, he saves his longer pieces for films he likes, such as The Usual Suspects, The English Patient and, most surprisingly, Speed. There are hundreds of movie reviewers in our cinema-obsessed country, but few bring such intelligence and lan to the task as Lane, who weaves together erudition and plain language so artfully that he often trumps whatever snippets of cinematic dialogue he's using to illustrate his point. Of Braveheart, he writes: "The obsequies seem to go on forever: the bodies are buried at a Christian ceremony, after which a little girl comes shyly up to William and gives him a thistle. I thought, I'm out of here." Lane's other pieces, which include book reviews, profiles of authors such as Nabokov and Pynchon, and a few full-length magazine articles, round out the collection nicely, showcasing a writer who can make a sing-along version of The Sound of Music seem like the most compelling night in town. For those who look forward to Lane's pieces, and for the many who should, this weighty tome is as delightful as watching Marilyn Monroe doing the shimmy. (Sept.) Forecast: Extensive advertising in the New Yorker; appearances on NPR, C-SPAN and Charlie Rose; and a nine-city author tour will ignite sales for this classy film review book. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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. Compared frequently to Edmund Wilson and Kenneth Tynan, Lane exercises his expansive knowledge on a seemingly endless number of topics in this delightful group of commentaries, originally published in his New Yorker column. A decade of his finest work-a total of 141 columns-is neatly presented to the reader in three categories: movies, books, and people. One of the best aspects of Lane's column, and of this anthology, is that it wanders across cultural and intellectual borders. The author discusses everything from Forrest Gump to the art of cookbook writing to the joy of Legos and personages ranging from Julia Roberts to Ernest Shackleton. The main flaw, if a flaw at all, is that nearly half the essays are dedicated to the movies du jour from years gone by. Still, Lane is endlessly entertaining, and his ability to present memorable observations about less-than-memorable movies makes him a joy to read. For critic-at-large wannabes, this collection will serve as a de facto guide for years to come. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries with extensive journalism collections.-Ken Winter, Preston Lib., Lexington, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
An avalanche of Lane, resident wag at The New Yorker—and how enjoyable it is to be buried under it all. "I am merely stating an argument," says the critic. "Freedom to disagree is part of the fun." A review, he continues, should be "a sensory report on the kind of experience into which [moviegoers] will be wading." And that’s what he gives us: Lane out there sinking his arm up to the pit in some book, film, or personality, returning from the briars and swamps of culture with a reading of the atmospheric conditions. The writing is debonair, even when he sticks in the knife and gives it a twist. The magazine gives him enough room to stretch his legs, but not so much that he doesn’t have to work at compression; deadlines loom, so the impressions are reactive, but don’t loom so closely that he can’t consider his lines of attack, humor, and benediction. It’s a doorstopper of a tome, and so there are bound to be some slow moments. ("James Bond is doing just fine; it is Ian Fleming who needs help"— too much help, it appears, to warrant an explanation.) And Lane occasionally overdoes the humor in pieces like "Astronauts," where the taglines fall over one another. Almost always, though, he finds the balance of brains to laughs: Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, for example, "wants to be a universal life force who happens to specialize in architecture." His prose swings with the sheer exuberance of someone having a good time and inviting us along, perhaps to spend some moments with a bunch of hairy gents dressed as nuns caroling, "For here you are, standing there, loving me," and then to explain just how these participants in a "Singalong-a-Sound-of-Music" are involved in the Proustian principle of memory.Another guy who knows how to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, thoroughly unpredictable as to whether he’ll administer pain or pleasure.