Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Opportunities for female directors have only been growing in recent years, a development that’s taken too long to happen. One of the beneficiaries of this sea change is Olivia Wilde, who made her directorial debut with 2019’s well-received Booksmart. Now she’s back with her highly-anticipated (for an assortment of reasons) sophomore film, Don’t Worry Darling.

The film stars Florence Pugh as Alice Chambers, who lives in a utopian small desert town with her husband, Jack (Harry Styles), who works for a company called Victory. The town has all the trappings of an idyllic version of the 1950s, from the style of the houses to the cars to the way the wives dote on their husbands. But right away it’s clear there’s something off about the town, especially since everyone seems to hold up the company’s leader, Frank (Chris Pine), as some kind of infallible person.

Olivia Wilde and Nick Kroll in Don't Worry Darling Olivia Wilde and Nick Kroll in Don't Worry Darling Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Alice starts to sense the cracks in town’s veneer, and gradually tests the boundaries that everyone else adheres to faithfully. Her suspicions only deepen when another wife disappears, and anyone with whom she chooses to confide gaslights her into thinking that she’s losing her mind. Trying to figure out what’s real or not drives her to do many things that threaten the whole town’s way of life.

Collaborating once again with Booksmart writer Katie Silberman, Wilde creates a mysterious and tension-filled film that is about as far away from the revelry of her previous film as you could get. There are times when the story starts to become too enigmatic for its own good, but Wilde seems to know exactly when to add on a new layer to keep viewers interested in where the story will take them next.

Wilde and Silberman also continue to explore gender politics through this well-told allegory. The actions of Alice and the other women (which include Wilde, Gemma Chan, Kiki Layne, Kate Berlant, and others) come off as Stepford Wives-ish, but they also act in ways inconsistent with people who have been brainwashed. When secrets finally start to be revealed, the story takes on a deeper meaning of male insecurity and female empowerment.

Chris Pine in Don't Worry Darling Chris Pine in Don't Worry Darling Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The behind-the-scenes technical team greatly aids in the mood of the film. The production design by Katie Byron is impeccable, and it and the desert landscape are shot extremely well by cinematographer Matthew Libatique. Especially standing out is the score by John Powell, who utilizes unconventional sounds and voices to create music that elevates every scene to which it’s attached.

Pugh has already been a star for several years, and she shows yet again why she’s held in such high esteem. She brings just the right level of angst, confusion, and anger to the evolution of her character, making her compelling throughout. Styles acquits himself well in his biggest role to date, never coming off as just a singer pretending to be an actor. Pine is also great as the creepy-but-charismatic Frank, demonstrating skills that every good cult leader needs.

Don’t Worry Darling holds a lot more than what it shows on the surface, making it a great second film for the talented Wilde. With a proven ability to jump between genres effortlessly, she should be given many more opportunities to tell stories on the big screen.

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Don't Worry Darling opens in theaters on September 23.

Don't Worry Darling | Official Trailer www.youtube.com

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Charter Moms

San Antonio moms launch splashy summer program of fun and learning

Summer Scaries

As summer break kicks off, parents may be facing a large-scale version of the Sunday scaries, coming up with months of activities to keep kids active and engaged. While encouraging kids to get out of the house with “Go play outside” is every bit as valid as it’s always been, a new San Antonio initiative comes pre-loaded with tons of ideas from local parents and experts.

The Summer of Play event series is anchored by three playdates: June 9, June 14, and July 14, taking place at splash pads around town. These get-togethers are held by the San Antonio Charter Moms online community, with over 9,000 members on Facebook, but everyone is invited, and attendees can come and go as they please.

A central goal of the series is to combat learning loss, or the way learning decays while away from school or while dealing with some major scheduling drain like the pandemic. This series focuses on hands-on programming that teaches, while also creating opportunities to play on splash pads around the city and socialize.

First up, at Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair, is STEMulate Curiosity, which teaches kids about math and science. The activities are led by BASIS San Antonio, one of the top 100 charter schools in the United States.

Next is an exploration of “cyber parenting” at Voigt Park led by nextTalk, a podcast that discusses open communication around topics kids may consume on the internet, regardless of what parents would prefer to allow.

Finally, occupational therapist Jorge Ochoa will lead a fun finger bootcamp at Pearsall Park, developing pre-writing skills like using a pencil and drawing shapes.

San Antonio Charter Moms will send a team to answer education questions at each event, and Alamo City Moms will be on hand with ideas for family-centric outings around the city and a favorite summer camps guide.

The series emphasizes the effect of the pandemic not just on learning, but on kids’ habits. Parents can look beyond the Summer of Play to articles, video resources, and collaborations through the Charter Moms that can inspire year-round fun and growth. One resource, identified as the precursor to the Summer of Play, is a self-paced multimedia collection of activities to try at home called Charter a Voyage of Learning.

More information, including Eventbrite links, is available on sachartermoms.com. Don’t forget sunscreen and a snack! All three events run from 10 am to 12 pm.

Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB

Saddle up for a summer of rodeo fun in Bandera, the Cowboy Capital

It's Rodeo Season

Sick of the hustle and bustle of modern city life? Then the “Cowboy Capital of the World” is calling your name.

Put a weekend trip to Bandera, Texas, on your calendar. There’s plenty of authentic Texas fun to be found in this little town, located just an hour northeast of San Antonio.

Saddle up
Rodeo has been the heart of this little Texas town for nearly a century, and Bandera’s biggest rodeo of the year is just a few days away: the Memorial Day Weekend Stampede Pro Rodeo.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, cowboys and cowgirls will be showing off their finest skills at the Mansfield Park Arena. All seven pro rodeo events — bareback riding, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, and bull riding — will be shown all three nights.

Gates to the arena open at 6 pm and the Grand Entry starts right at 8 pm, with tickets available at the gate or online.

Ready to two-step? Grab a partner, because 11th Street Cowboy Bar will be providing the dance on Friday and Saturday nights at Mansfield Park.

The weekend will be jam-packed with rodeo fun, so make sure to wander Main Street during the day.

For Memorial Day, horseback riders will parade down Main Street in honor of those lost in service on Saturday at 11 am.

Courthouse Square in downtown Bandera will be packed with vendors all weekend for the Memorial Day Arts and Crafts show. While you’re there, be sure to check out the bronze monument on the courthouse lawn that honors the many past National Rodeo Champions from Bandera.

The Bandera Cattle Company will be performing a special three-show edition of their weekly gunfights on Saturday at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm

If you can’t swing the trip this weekend, Bandera’s rodeo season will be proudly roaring all summer long.

Rodeos at Mansfield Park will continue on Friday nights through August 5, and barrel racing and mini bull riding events will be held monthly on Saturdays through October.

Make it a weekend
Once the staging area for the Great Western Cattle Trail, Bandera’s authentic cowboy roots are still going strong.

For the true cowboy experience, stay at one of Bandera’s iconic dude ranches. Definitely plan for a long drive or bike ride along Highway 16 and take in the Texas Hill Country’s unique and unforgettable vistas.

Cool off by the Medina or Sabinal rivers or boat, fish, or picnic at Medina Lake. And at night, two-step or waltz the night away at a local honky-tonk with live music.

Check out all that Bandera has to offer, and start planning your getaway, here.

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of rodeo season.

Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of rodeo season.
Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

The Dominion: San Antonio's premier lifestyle community

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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The Dominion has always intrigued real estate agent Matthew Resnick — he lived there himself for more than eight years, and was a HOA board member, and has family still in the neighborhood. His office has been located in The Dominion for the past 15 years.

"I've made it my passion to become the expert for people buying and selling in The Dominion and its surrounding areas," Resnick says. "It's a masterplanned community where you can live, work, and play, with golf courses, parks, ponds, and trails."

Resnick — who is also a certified expert in diamonds and jewelry, thanks to growing up with his father's business, Reznikov's Fine Jewelry — calls The Dominion San Antonio's premier lifestyle community.

His reasons? Here are a few more of his personal favorites about life in the area:

Where to eat & drink
No matter what you're craving, you'll be satisfied. Resnick recommends Signature, Piatti, Rudy's BBQ, and Bar 301.

Where to play
"I enjoy spending time with my family hiking at Friedrich Park," he says. "I also really enjoy playing a round of golf or having a tennis match with my kids at the Dominion Country Club and La Cantera Resort & Spa."

What to see
TopGolf is another way to practice your swing, or more adventurous souls can check out Six Flags Fiesta Texas, horseback riding at Rose Palace, and iFly indoor skydiving.

Less heart-pounding but still enjoyable is retail therapy at The Shops at La Cantera or a visit to Cascade Caverns and the Cave Without a Name.

Where to live
"Behind the gates in The Dominion you have many distinctive neighborhoods that each have their own style, appeal, and architecture," Resnick says. "You will find contemporary and modern to traditional and Colonial architecture in all sizes, from garden homes to large acreage lots with mansion/estate homes."

A recent large sale of Resnick's definitely falls into the latter category: 5 Crescent Bluff, a beauty of over 7,000 square feet built by the award-winning Roberto Kenigstein of Image Homes.

"Matthew really cares, as though he's making the purchase himself," says his client. "Having moved a handful of times, I have experienced a variety of Realtors as both a buyer and a seller. Matthew and his team are exceptional."

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Matthew Resnick works and plays in The Dominion. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email matthew.resnick@kupersir.com, or call 210-849-8837.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Oak Park: Namesake trees surround rapidly rising property values

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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You know you're making the right choice in a neighborhood when even your Realtor has invested there.

Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent Megan Perez has lived in Oak Park for the past four years, drawn by the tree-lined streets, family friendly community, convenient location — 281, 410, the airport, and Alamo Heights are all nearby — and collection of midcentury modern homes that are ripe for loving renovations.

"The values here have substantially increased over the years," says Perez. "Plus Oak Park pays the Bexar County property tax rate, not the Alamo Heights property tax rate, making a home here an even smarter investment."

She has invested in her personal home, completing a significant interior renovation. Perez is also an owner in a local boutique development business called MP2 Urban Development, where her expertise is in residential new construction and historic renovations in the urban core.

Her background and team of contractors are especially valuable when her clients are preparing their micentury-era Oak Park homes for the market.

She offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Oak Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
You won't go hungry in Oak Park. Some of Perez's favorites include Theory Coffee, Revolucion Coffee+ Juice, Twin Sisters Bakery & Cafe, Boss Bagel, and Naco Mexican Eatery for breakfast, La Fonda Alamo Heights for the Fajitas, and The Barn Door for Texas-style steaks and home cooking.

Head to Mama's Cafe for Texas-style comfort food, Bangkok 54 for Thai cuisine, and Soluna for the chispas and ribeye tacos.

Where to play
"I love that the Greenway Trail connects Oak Park to other parts of the city," Perez says.

Haskin Park, Northridge Park, Northwood Park, and Quarry Golf Course all also offer ways to get in touch with nature.

What to see
"Oak Park is home to one of the most significant caves in Bexar County, the Robber Baron Cave," she says.

The McNay Art Museum is also a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Where to live
The majority of the homes were built between 1955 and the 1980s, and are predominantly ranch-style and midcentury modern.

"There is a variation of lot sizes, with several large lots still intact," says Perez. "100-plus-year-old oak trees shade the streets and yards, and the neighborhood is easy to navigate in and out of."

Oak Park is a very walkable and friendly neighborhood, and it's not unusual to see kids and pets out playing, people walking and jogging, and neighbors hanging out in their front and backyards.

Among Perez's most significant recent sales are 258 Cave Lane and 111 Oakhurst Place.

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Megan Perez lives, works, and plays in Oak Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email megan.perez@kupersir.com, or call 210-748-3616.

Agent Megan Perez

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Megan Perez
Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Southtown: San Antonio's artsy, historical enclave

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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"Southtown is a neighborhood in the truest sense," says real estate agent Debra Maltz, "residents with diverse backgrounds who care deeply about their community, both its people and its structures, who strive to maintain balance in order to assure that future generations have the same quality of life."

The artsy neighborhood of Southtown is where Maltz keeps her office, and it's an area that she's been happily introducing clients to for the past decade.

"The vibe of Southtown is well appreciated among San Antonio," she says. "It is probably the most walkable neighborhood in the city, with fabulous restaurants, interesting shops, Blue Star Arts complex, the San Antonio River, the So Flo HEB, and gorgeous Victorian homes, all only a short walk to downtown."

Maltz offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Southtown. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"There are too many to pinpoint, but I love Cascabel, a small Mexican cafe across from Bonham Elementary — delicious!" she says.

Liberty Bar, Upscale, Bar Loretta, Little Em's, Pharm Table, Bliss, and The Good Kind also make the list, though Maltz points out that new favorites seem to always be appearing.

Where to play
Obviously Hemisfair Park and the San Antonio River hike and bike path, which goes all the way to the Missions, are oft-visited spots, as is Yanaguana Park and just strolling down King William Street.

What to see
Though the Edward Steves Homestead Museum is currently closed, you can still visit Villa Finale and the Blue Star Arts Complex for your doses of culture and history.

Where to live
"Southtown has wonderful historic homes, many of them well over 100 years old, as well as newer, more modern ones," Maltz says. "Many of the older homes are filled with history, and when you decide to live in a home filled with history you are agreeing to be a steward of the home."

One such homes is a recent listing of Maltz's: 134 Cedar St., a four-bedroom 1904 King William home.

The Lucas House, as it's known, sits on almost half an acre in the heart of the city, with a landscaped back yard that offers a koi pond and water feature, potting/storage shed, and raised zinc garden beds.

The additional, 480-square-foot Alamo motif structure in the back could be a guest house, artist studio, or office. In the main house, original wood floors, tall windows, and intricate woodwork can be found throughout, plus tiled fireplaces that have all been meticulously maintained.

But perhaps the most appealing feature is the number of outside porches. The large front wraparound porch affords a place to interact with neighbors and watch school children pass by, while the two private, large, screened-in porches in the rear are the perfect spot to dine al fresco or watch the fireworks at the Tower of the Americas.

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Debra Maltz works and plays in Southtown. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email debra.maltz@kupersir.com, or call 210-639-3272.

Agent Debra Maltz

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Debra Maltz
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New Hellraiser is stylishly gut-wrenching, but lacks substance overall

Movie review

Horror franchises, even more than ones featuring superheroes, action stars, or animated characters, have proved themselves to be eternal. No matter how many times a villain or monster is bested by the hero of the film, filmmakers find a way to bring them back to try to wring more scares out of their presence.

The original Hellraiser came out in 1987 and was followed by nine sequels, including one as recent as 2018. But everything old is new again, and so now we get the reboot. An opening sequence reintroduces the series’ central device, a puzzle box that stabs unwitting users, thereby summoning horrific figures known as Cenobites to inflict torturous pain on those who’ve been stabbed.

Cut to a few years later and a group of young people are ensnared by the puzzle box’s allure, including the central figure Riley (Odessa A’zion), an addict who lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) and roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds). Riley’s boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) convinces her to help him steal things from a warehouse, inadvertently bringing the puzzle into their lives. When Riley tries solve the puzzle, all hell is unleashed on the group.

Directed by David Bruckner and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the film is a stylish yet mostly empty demonstration of gruesomeness. The Cenobites – who go by names like The Priest (aka Pinhead), The Chatterer, and The Weeper – are freaky-looking creatures with all manner of flayed flesh and painful piercings. Their mere presence and supernatural ability to grab victims by chains and hooks is scary, but an actual reason for why they keep procuring more targets is lacking.

The story is hit-and-miss, with the main group alternating between heroic, stupid, or heroically stupid decision-making. Riley seems to be a person who’s unreliable at best, yet person after person tries to intervene on her behalf, a loyalty that is left unexplored in the film. While the way Riley and the others eventually fight back against the Cenobites makes sense, the scenes featuring those fights are uninspiring.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the one that is explored the least. A mysterious man named Voight (Goran Visnjic) is introduced in the opening sequence, reappearing in the film’s final act. He has a particular connection to the puzzle box and Cenobites that makes him half villain/half victim, one which could have been fleshed out a bit more to make him less one-dimensional.

A’zion, who kind of looks like Alia Shawkat, makes for an unusual protagonist. She’s not that expressive, so the audience really has to dig deep to empathize with her character. The other members of the group are also generic, never bringing anything that makes you want to care about them more. The actors playing the Cenobites are good, although the makeup does half the job for them.

This reboot of Hellraiser is the classic example of style over substance. Much effort was made into making the film look as good as possible, but the story fails on multiple levels, making all of those visuals in service of very little.

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Hellraiser debuts exclusively on Hulu on October 7.

11 must-see artists at ACL Fest 2022 — from Texas and beyond

Music Notes

It’s game time for two weekends of good times by way of Austin City Limits Music Festival. Since you certainly already have a must-see list comprised of the bigger artists on the lineup, here’s some choice acts — from Austin and beyond.

Must-see acts from Austin

Spoon
No one really needs to be told to see one of Austin's best bands of all-time. However, just in case you were thinking about skipping them, be sure to note that their 2022 release, Lucifer on the Sofa, plays great in a live setting. You can see them both weekends of the fest on Saturday at 4pm on the Honda stage.

Adrian Quesada’s Boleros Psicodélicos
Adrian Quesada (of Black Pumas) recently put out a solo album, Boleros Psicodélicos, and you’ll be able to check out all of its Latin America-inspired psych ballads during weekend one of ACL. Catch his set on Saturday, October 8, at 2:15 pm on the Honda stage.

Darkbird
Vet rockers Darkbird were supposed to play ACL in 2021, but a weather delay nixed their set. Expect the band, which is fronted by the always-spirted Kelly Barnes, to take full advantage of the do-over. Their only appearance at the fest will be Sunday, October 9 at 1:15 pm on the BMI stage.

Eric Tessmer
After a couple decades of dutiful shredding around Austin, guitar great Eric Tessmer has finally found his way onto an ACL lineup. His sure-to-be explosive turn at the fest is a weekend one only experience – see it on Sunday, October 9, at 5 pm on the BMI stage.

Good Looks
Indie rock act Good Looks are responsible for Bummer Year, one of the better albums to come out of Austin in 2022, so of course you should have them on your ACL radar. Catch this weekend two-only band on Saturday, October 15, at 1pm on the Tito’s stage.

Urban Heat
Get your new wave/post punk fix via Urban Heat during weekend two of ACL. The buzzy act, who recently put out an EP titled Wellness, will perform on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the BMI stage.

Other must-see acts

Muna
LA’s own Muna, who are signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory imprint, head into ACL on a wave of acclaim for their 2022 self-titled album. The pop act has just a weekend one set on Sunday, October 9, at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage.

Dehd
Dehd’s Blue Skies is loaded with some of the catchiest indie rock tracks you’ll find on any album in 2022, and that’s reason enough to catch them at ACL. The Chicagoans play both weekends – look for them each Sunday at 1:15 pm on the T-Mobile stage.

Magdalena Bay
Synthpop act Magdalena Bay recently dropped a deluxe edition of their hit 2021 album, Mercurial World, and now they’ll put it on display at ACL. Catch the LA-based act both weekends of the fest on Sunday at 4 pm on the Tito’s stage.

Wet Leg
Wet Leg had quite a bit of buzz heading into this year’s SXSW and the fervor surrounding the British indie rockers has only increased with the release of their self-titled debut album, which includes the infectious single “Chaise Longue.” The band is a weekend two-only play, and their set is Friday, October 14 at 2:30 pm on the Honda stage.

Faye Webster
The dreamy, gentle sounds of singer/songwriter Faye Webster will be a treat in the middle of the afternoon at Zilker Park. Be sure to catch the Atlanta-based artist during her weekend two-only appearance on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage. By the way, don’t be surprised if Webster and her bandmates engage in some sweet yo-yo action.

Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

Spooky sights and outdoor nights await in the days to come. Feel the thrill at the return of Fright Fest at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or celebrate all things fluttery at the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. Check out the top five things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, October 6

Gruene Music & Wine Festival
Get outside of town and enjoy a culmination of music, food, drinks, and more at Gruene Hall. Gruene Music & Wine Festival attendees can enjoy four separate events over the course of four days, each uniquely tailored to Texas-inspired interests. Highlights include a curated tasting of Texas wine and beer and a private performance with Pat Green. Visit the festival website for a full schedule of events and to get ticketing information. Programming is scheduled through October 9.

Friday, October 7

Six Flags Fiesta Texas presents Fright Fest
Fright Fest is back at Six Flags Fiesta Texas with spooky, family-friendly daytime activities and chilling attractions when the sun goes down. Freaky festivities include haunted houses, scare zones, live shows, and seasonal updates to some of the park’s most popular rides. Fright Fest is open through October 31.

Bonnie Raitt in concert
Blues-singing songstress Bonnie Raitt comes to San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre for one night only. The “Love Letter” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” star is returning to the tour circuit in support of her new album, Just Like That... Raitt will be joined by special guest Marc Cohn. Get ticketing information here.

Saturday, October 8

Texas Butterfly Ranch presents 7th Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival
Celebrate one of nature’s most graceful and captivating creations at Brackenridge Park Pavilion. This year’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is a month-long series of events including monarch tagging demos, waggle dancing, the forever journey altar, educational booths, and the traditional People for Pollinators Procession. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, go the festival website.

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: Back On Tour
Actor and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias brings fresh material and guaranteed laughs to the AT&T Center. Iglesias is one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube and has had roles in films like Magic Mike, Magic Mike XXL, and A Haunted House 2. Visit the ticketing website for show information and to reserve your seats.