An Indie Rebuttal to Blockbuster Hero-Dads

The weak, helpless fathers in The Captive and Little Feet are stark contrasts to the absurdly macho patriarchs of many action films

Ryan Reynolds in The Captive

Liam Neeson obsessives who deep down believe they’re just a single “taken” loved one away from transforming into the ultimate bad-ass could stand to watch Atom Egoyan’s The Captive—at least for an hour or so. Matthew Lane (Ryan Reynolds), the distraught father in the latest from the writer-director of The Sweet Hereafter, has also lost his daughter to a sinister kidnapping ring, but unlike Brian Mills—Neeson’s ex-spec-ops-assassin in the Taken series—Matthew has no “particular set of skills” that might help him recover Cassandra (Peyton Kennedy), the 9-year-old last seen waiting in the backseat of his truck while he picked up a to-go order for dinner. He doesn’t even have the emotional wherewithal to cope with the guilt he feels for leaving his daughter alone and vulnerable for those crucial few minutes.

In fact, Reynolds’ Matthew is perhaps the opposite of Neeson’s Brian. He’s the owner of a failed landscaping business, and his soon-to-be-estranged wife Tina (Mireille Enos) views him not as a potential savior, but as a negligent father, undeserving of forgiveness and incapable of redemption, earned or otherwise. The police detectives assigned to the case, Dunlop (Rosario Dawson) and Cornwall (Scott Speedman), see Matthew as, at best, a victim (Dunlop’s view) or a possible suspect (the inexplicable opinion of Cornwall). In the course of The Captive’s eight-year, nonlinear timeline, Matthew manages to throw a single, cathartic punch and make a couple of satisfying speeches, but he’s mainly just shoved around, silently resented, or flat-out accused of playing the villain in his own tragedy.

Unfortunately, Matthew’s situation more closely resembles those of the more than 10,000 real families with missing children reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children last year, than does the absurd masculine wish fulfillment depicted in the Neeson action vehicles. Reynolds, far from Marvel-hero mode, plays a broken man, unable to move on for fear of betraying the memory of the daughter he feels responsible for losing. “There are no happy endings,” says Detective Dunlop of the cases she works as head of the local child exploitation unit, “only stories that just stop.” That The Captive’s first hour so closely resembles this kind of story makes its move toward a more conventionally complete, if not outright “happy,” ending in the final act seem like a cheat—unfair not to the viewer, but to the countless actual parents who find no such resolution.

Credit Egoyan, however, for making his film’s victim (played in later scenes by Alexia Fast) much more active in her own story than the doped-up virginal MacGuffin Neeson slayed half of Eastern Europe to save. Cassandra—who ages beyond the sexual interest of her captors during the film’s duration and is forced to help them lure new victims—begins manipulating her abductors in an attempt to escape, a tactic real victims employ to bring about their own resolutions, happy or sad, in the absence of any CIA-trained, silver-fox saviors.

Nico, Lana, and their neighbor in Little Feet

Of course, many more children are the victims of forces even harder to fight, let alone define, than a faceless kidnapping cabal. Little Feet, the latest film by writer-director Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup), stars Lana and Nico Rockwell (the director’s real-life children) as a young sister and brother trying to process the death of their mother in a world now largely absent of adults. Their overworked, alcoholic father (the director, in what amounts to a cameo role) is to them almost as abstract an idea as the memory of their mother. Lana and Nico, also credited with helping create the film’s story, live in a world that revolves around improvised games and salvaged toys and trinkets in their small East Los Angeles apartment.

When one of the children’s two pet goldfish (significantly, the “momma fish”) dies, Lana and Nico take pity on the survivor and skip school to release it into the L.A. River. The great body of water they imagine themselves to be questing toward is, of course, a famously bone-dry concrete ravine, but comparatively, that’s just one of the minor nonsensical cruelties these impoverished, neglected children must reconcile with their worldviews. Shot in 16mm black-and-white and clocking in at a little over an hour, Little Feet relies on the symbolism of freeform child’s play to convey its ideas, in much the same way its protagonists trust that 99-cent-store animal masks can transform them from powerless mourners into brave adventurers. The result, in both cases, is charming and magical and more than enough.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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