Movies Today Lack Depth and Emotion


What connects the films Barbie and Oppenheimer? Both were summer 2023 blockbusters and significant cultural moments, despite their distinct differences. Barbie delves into the essence of a doll, whereas Oppenheimer explores the intellect and soul of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the creator of the atomic bomb. 

However, Barbie and Oppenheimer share one crucial similarity: they are thoroughly developed. Characters are multidimensional, history is explored, and complex philosophical questions are meticulously examined. 

There’s been much discussion in the entertainment world and on social media about Hollywood’s disappointing box office in 2024. Movie attendance has decreased, with critics attributing it to everything from cellphones to noisy, unclean theaters. 

My solution is straightforward: allow talented writers to create nuanced, complex scripts that are rich in dialogue and depth. This approach succeeded for Barbie and Oppenheimer. The only major financial success in 2024, Dune, is rooted in the idea-rich 1965 novel.

I’ve always been a movie enthusiast and even worked in a restored art deco theater in Maryland during college. I enjoy various genres, including comedy, drama, action, and horror, but increasingly miss films with outstanding writing. 

One of the finest books on film criticism I’ve read recently is Philip Gefter’s Cocktails with George and Martha: Movies, Marriage, and the Making of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which examines the 1966 film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. 

The story, based on the 1962 acclaimed play, showcases a married couple’s journey through bitterness and exhaustion. No CGI or superhero antics have engaged me as much as George and Martha’s complex, tormented relationship, revealing their enduring love despite their sufferings.

Gefter describes Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as “an entertaining alchemy of talent, vision, tension, drama, ego, rigor, and drama.” He adds: “Regardless of a couple’s daily demeanor, their underlying attachment resides in an unpredictable, private universe, sometimes erupting in displeasure, pain, and rage, yet the film portrays essential truths about marital bonds concealed beneath daily routines.”

Gefter also highlights that Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Long Day’s Journey into Night premiered the same week Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? debuted on Broadway. Written by Edward Albee, who was educated in Greenwich Village during the late 1950s, Albee observed: “Being there completed my education. I experienced abstract expressionist paintings, contemporary music, off-off Broadway plays by Beckett, Brecht, Pirandello, and read many paperbacks.”

Until recently, comedies and action movies maintained a certain level of literacy. Films by Woody Allen in the 1970s combined humor with philosophical discourse. The 1970s blockbuster Jaws, adapted from a novel, featured extended dialogue scenes. George Lucas drew from literature, mythology, and psychology for Star Wars. Whit Stillman’s 1990s films, like Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco, depicted young characters navigating social worlds with intellectual insight.

I vividly recall my brother, an acclaimed actor, commenting on the 1982 action classic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: “That was Homeric.” While The Road Warrior centers on post-apocalyptic car chases in the Australian desert, its poetic voice-over adds depth and cohesion, exemplifying excellent writing. 

Fast-forward 40 years to the release of Furiosa, a sequel to The Road Warrior. Unlike its predecessor, it is underdeveloped and, unsurprisingly, underperformed at the box office. 

Presently, a film as intellectually rich and eloquent as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? seems unthinkable. Yet, I believe audiences yearn for it. We seek intelligent content that justifies our investment.

Mark Judge
Mark Judge
Mark Judge is a journalist and filmmaker whose writings have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily Caller.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app