By Robert Kolker
First published in 1980 and available now in its fourth revised edition, A Cinema of Loneliness remains the most acute and perceptive critical study of some of the finest films and directors of the Hollywood New Wave of the 1970s. Robert Kolker sees solitude, emptiness, and alienation as the key themes in these directors' responses to a bleak decade. As evidence, he points to some 20 movies that end on shots of people in solitude, from Michael Corleone by his lake to Robert Altman's McCabe dying in the snow. The book's greatest pleasures come in his unpacking of movies we think we're familiar with—shot by shot, creative decision by creative decision—in a manner that makes them newly rich and complex. Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather parts I and II (1972, '74) in relation to The Conversation (1974), Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973), and Arthur Penn's Night Moves (1975) are among the films decon-structed better here than anywhere else. Loneliness is riveting, blessedly free of sclerotic academese, and teeming with diverse rewards and insights.
Review written by John Patterson.