The best films are always feeding off cultural currents like water drawn from a well, and it’s common knowledge that real-life events sometimes trigger interest in a film that’s lucky enough to open at just the right time. Sometimes it’s hard to say whether events influence films or vice versa, or if “fears, ideas of joy and what’s happening on the horizon” (in the words of Film Society of Lincoln center honcho Kent Jones) are just swirling every which way and sticking to this and that surface. Everyone remembers how The China Syndrome, a 1979 film about meltdown threats in nuclear power plants, got a significant boost when the Three Mile Island nuclear accident happened less than two weeks after it opened. And if you ask me some of the potency of Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire (’04), an immaculate whoop-ass revenge film, came from a general feeling that deep down it was a response to 9/11 (i.e., Denzel Washington bringing great pain to a gang of fiends).

Likewise I have a slight seat-of-the-pants feeling that Mike Binder‘s Black and White, a racially-tinged child custody drama pitting a lushy, well-off L.A. attorney and grandfather, played by Kevin Costner, against his African-American in-laws, is going to somehow siphon the Ferguson after-current on some level. The film doesn’t dramatize police brutality or shootings or any of that, but it takes a hard look at responsibility and parenting and racial identity and who’s really feeling what, and if you ask me it offers one of the frankest discussions about the black-white racial divide since Barack Obama ‘s Philadelphia speech about Reverend Wright, and before that Spike Lee‘s Do The Right Thing (’89).

Binder’s film, which will play the Toronto Film Festival next month and then open sometime in mid-fall, will of course sink or swim on its own merits, but at the very least the Ferguson melodrama has warmed up the room to some extent.

I also suspect that on some level the savagery of ISIL in Iraq might, in a roundabout way, warm up the room for David Ayer‘s Fury, which is about savage combat in the waning days of World War II in Europe. Over the last two or three weeks and particularly since the beheading of James Foley everyone’s been nursing thoughts about the extreme brutality of war and particularly feelings about how sometimes there’s no way for the “good guys” (i.e., our side) to play it except to show those fuckers no mercy. That kind of thinking is clearly in the air, and on some level, I’m presuming, it’s going to feed into the response to Fury.