Nobody's Perfect: Writings from the New Yorker

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2002 - Motion pictures - 752 pages
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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 his alone, 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gbelik - LibraryThing

For the longest time, this was my go-to book if I just had a little time to read. It is mostly (and most enjoyably) movie reviews, with an addition of some other essays. I found them witty and insightful and they often made me go back and re-watch a movie or discover a new one. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - simchaboston - LibraryThing

Excellent and witty anthology by the longtime New Yorker critic. Many of the film reviews had me snorting and snickering helplessly, as Lane is devastatingly funny about the movies he hates, and the ... Read full review


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About the author (2002)

Anthony Lane has been a film critic for The New Yorker since 1993. He lives in London.

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