...To some, a collection of old reviews may seem as unappetising as warmed-up porridge, and if so, they'd miss what has been the treat of the Xmas season. Here is a critic to rival, no surpass, Ken Tynan and Cyril Connolly; someone you want to read for sheer pleasure at the jokes even if you haven't seen the movie. Even where you disagree, the descriptions are irresistible: Jim Carrey in The Truman Show "admirable but painful: he looks like a drunk who is not only making do with Pellegrino but pretending he likes the stuff", the New York Film Festival showing of Rushmore, where "tough-=skinned viewers in black polo shirts were severely discomfited to find they were having a good time", and more. Equally superb are the literary essays on Eliot, on Bloom and Shakespeare, on Nabokov, and most particularly the Obituaries column of the Daily Telegraph. He never shows off or uses complicated words. He loves good populist movies quite as much as art-house ones, and what is more will explain just why they're worth watching. In short, he does what almost no other critic does, which is to write with the gut feeling of a member of the audience, but with the erudition and elegance of a scholar.
Would that Lane had stayed in Britain instead of floating off to the New Yorker, fame and fortune. The literary world is the poorer for having lost this star who never confuses malice with wit, arrogance with intelligence, affectation with elegance. I wish all would-be critics and journalists would read this book, and learn from it - and all movie-makers too.