The two scariest threats to the American way of life this century? One, domestic terrorism and two, economic instability brought on by the housing crisis and recession of 2009. Which Americans have been hit hardest? Suburban and rural working-class types, for the most part. Right away that raises the notion of red-state regions, which in turn summons the horror of last month’s Presidential election result.
But middle-class people are traumatized these days, or so Michael Moore has observed. Did they create the above-described social plagues? No — they’ve just been trying to grapple with them first-hand while keeping their heads above water. One thing’s for sure — domestic terrorism (Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston) and stagnant wages have been theirs to have and hold. Or so goes the legend.
Hollywood movies aren’t exactly renowned for settling into working-class environments and listening to their denizens and trying to make some sense of their situations. But this year, two award-season films have done exactly that — David Mackenzie‘s Hell or High Water on the economic end, and Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg‘s Patriots Day on the terrorist-threat side of the scale. And they’re both from CBS Films.
I’m not going to try and quantify exactly what creative buttons were pushed by CBS Films president Terry Press or what this CBS-owned division, founded nine years ago by Leslie Moonvies, did to specifically enable the Hell or High Water and Patriots Day capturings, but these films are brandishing the CBS label and that, for now, makes CBS Films seem a bit like Warner Bros. of the 1930s, the studio that specialized in rugged social dramas and gangster films.