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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

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Make time for holiday shopping fun at Houston's Uptown Park this month

In the Bag

Whether you haven't had time to do your holiday shopping, or are just now starting to think about who's getting what, Uptown Park will be your gifting go-to this year.

From home goods at Longoria Collection to jewelry at High Gloss and Lewis Jewelers, menswear from Lucho Boutique and M Penner and fashionable women's finds from Elizabeth Anthony, and artisan sweets from Araya Chocolate, there's no shortage of inspiration.

Mark your calendar for the Black Girl Christmas Market on Saturday, December 10, from 12-4 pm, where you're sure to find unique and meaningful presents.

Want a little treat while you're out shopping? Take a carriage ride around Uptown Park from 5-8 pm on both December 11 and December 18.

Say "namast-Santa's-sleigh" to seasonal stress with YogaSix's Sunday morning yoga on December 18, from 9-10 am.

In addition to Uptown Park's already impressive list of retailers — you can see a full list here — some exciting new openings are on the horizon.

Lombardi Cucina Italiana, a restaurant celebrating authentic Italian cuisine with a modern touch. The 9,350-square-foot restaurant, a concept by Lombardi Family Concepts, will feature a large selection of pastas, fresh fish, meats, and produce and an extensive international wine list and cocktail program.

Polestar, the Swedish electric performance car brand. The 3,420-square-foot ‘Polestar Space,’ a modern environment designed to explore the brand, is the second location in Texas and is a unique retail environment to get to know the cars through Polestar specialists and innovative technology.

Glosslab, a hygiene-first, membership-based nail studio modernizing the nail salon experience. This concept by New York City’s Rachel Apfel Glass will be the second Texas location and features technology-enhanced, waterless nail services with hospital-grade sterilization.

Lombardi Cucina Italiana, Polestar, and Glosslab join kindbody, a reproductive health clinic that makes fertility care more affordable and accessible for all, and Rocambolesc, an international ice cream shop by the Roca Brothers from Spain, that both opened earlier this year.

“The addition of these five concepts to Uptown Park continues to provide our guests with the most sought-after brands and experiences," says Michael Hale, senior vice president of leasing at Edens, Uptown Park's owner and operator. "Paired with our commitment to enriching our neighborhood, we are excited to continue introducing new shopping and dining experiences that enhance the surrounding community."

Ken Hoffman taps into Houston's wacky water problems and which Texas city has the purest flow

H-2-okay?

Last week, due to a power outage that lasted about a blink at a treatment plant, Houstonians were told to boil their water for at least three minutes, then let it cool before drinking it. Heck, a Brita Water Filter doesn’t take that long — and you could die of thirst waiting on a Brita.

As reported here, the power outage happened around 10 am Sunday, November 27, but Houstonians weren’t told about the potential health hazard until nine hours later. We’ll have a little discussion about that in my office later, okay, Mayor Turner?

The concern over Houston’s drinking water lasted nearly two days. I dealt with the dry spell pretty easily.

I never touch the stuff. I don’t drink tap water for the same reason that cannibals won’t eat a clown: they taste funny. (That one comes courtesy of the children’s Highlights magazine in my dentist’s office.)

What's that smell, anyway?

Houston’s tap water is safe to drink. It meets all regulatory standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Most of our drinking water comes from the Trinity River flowing into Lake Livingston and from the San Jacinto River flowing into Lake Conroe and Lake Houston. Houston tap water is comparatively hard and rich with minerals.

Add that to the chlorine used to make it safe to drink, and well, some sophisticated palates detect a distinctive aroma to Houston tap water.

Make that a dis-stink-tive aroma.

The City of Houston even went as far as to offer an official explanation.

I don’t drink tap water here or anywhere else. I don’t use drinking fountains in the park. I order soda without ice cubes in the drive-through. It’s not a health thing. I just don’t like the way tap water tastes.

As Richard Lewis cracked during a dinner party where the host served tap water on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “goldfish would commit suicide in this water.” Legendary actor W.C. Fields said he never drank water because “fish [have sex] in it.”

My supermarket sells 28 bottles of purified drinking for $3.11. Even so, I rarely drink bottled water.

I drink Diet Pepsi like it’s water. I always have three or four bottles of Diet Pepsi, the big 2-liter bottles, in the refrigerator. I buy them at the 99 Cents store, where they cost $1.29, about half the price of supermarkets. Most everything at the 99 Cents store has jumped to $1.29. And my bill for lunch last week at fast food Freddy’s Steakburgers and Frozen Custard was $15 and that was without fries.

Now, I understand the cost of inflation, but I still have no idea what cryptocurrency is.

I know I drink too much Diet Pepsi, it’s not healthy. But Hugh Hefner drank 30 cans of Diet Pepsi a day and he got married when he was 86 to a woman who was 26. When Hefner was told that sex at that age might be fatal, he said, “if she dies, she dies.” (Courtesy of Milton Berle’s Private Joke File – Over 10,000 of His Best Gags and One-Liners.) I need to start reading real books.

According to the Texas Water Utilities Association, the city of Pflugerville has the best drinking water in Texas. Fun fact: residents of Pflugerville are called Pflugervillians. The town is named for the German word “pfluger,” which means “ploughman,” a reference to Pflugerville’s early settlers.

According to the Office of Water Resources, the states with the best-tasting drinking water:

1. Rhode Island, more than 90 percent of its groundwater is considered safe to drink.

2. Minnesota, the city of Duluth won the “Best in Glass” contest in 2013.

3. South Dakota, won the Secretary’s Award for “Drinking Water Excellence” for 16 consecutive years without a single violation.

The state with the worst drinking water?

Arizona, the highest average levels of chromium-6 and PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl )substances.

Guns N' Roses sue Houston-based online gun and flower store for similar name use

no 'patience' for this

Grammy-nominated rock band Guns N' Roses is claiming trademark infringement against a local flower shop.

The group filed a lawsuit against the owners of the online store that sells firearms and other accessories including flowers. The rock band said the store, Texas Guns And Roses, is causing confusion and damaging their reputation.

The group, that has sold millions of records, is concerned that fans could think the band is somehow connected to the online shop. According to the lawsuit, the website owner, Jersey Village Florist, registered the name without the band's approval.

Now, the band wants the store to stop using the name.

There are differences between the two names. However, the rock band said any damage done by having similar names is permanent.

The attorney for the online store, David Clark, said he does not see the similarities.

"There is no confusion between the brands. The band and its attorneys have admitted that. We will kindly respond as needed, and we will be fighting back," Clark tells ABC13 in a statement.

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Continue reading this story, with accompanying video, on our news partner ABC13.