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The Long Trip up the 'Dark Mountain'
Writer/director Tara Anaïse brings her wilderness horror to Austin
DAILY Screens  July 29, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...The found footage horror received its U.S. premiere, suitably enough, in the Dark Matters strand at last year's Austin Film Festival..."

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Our most primal fears about what's lurking in the dark lies at the heart of this Guillermo del Toro-scripted frightmare.
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Film Review  August 26, 2011, by Marc Savlov
"...That it should be accomplished by a Mexican filmmaker/producer and a comic book writer/artist shooting at an Australian location that doubles for Lovecraft's eldritch, ichor-infused New England probably says something about the globalization of the film market and the necessity of outsiders upsetting the cinematic corpse-cart, but that's not important right now. The fact that Troy Nixey's debut feature is one creepy-ass frightmare is what matters, and boy, does he put the nail in that metaphorical coffin the first time out..."

False Matters
What a bunch of goddam Dickheads
DAILY Arts  May 18, 2011, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...False Matters, created by Shannon McCormick and the popculture mavens of Gnap! Theatre Projects, is a series of shows that may well do for improvisational performance what a little LSD-25 does for a person's cerebrospinal fluid...."

The Dark Tower
Roland the Gunslinger hits the big screen
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Film Review  August 11, 2017, by Marc Savlov
"...Martin’s Game of Thrones, so ambitious and lengthy King’s continuing series has become over the past three decades. McConaughey’s overly dry performance as the Man in Black (who is also, quite likely, Randall Flagg, “the walkin’ dude” of King’s holiest of holies, The Stand) and Elba’s epically one-note take on Roland the Gunslinger don’t help matters..."

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
When the album becomes Immersion
Music Story  December 9, 2011, by Austin Powell
"...There's a nasty bite to Gilmour's vocals and astral guitar break in "Time," while "Money" flares like Halley's Comet behind Waters' snarling bass. In total, this Immersion offers nine different studio versions of the LP, but not the one that matters most: vinyl...."

Lege Lines: Left in the Dark
Who knew about the ICE raids this weekend? Not your state reps.
News Story  February 16, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...ICE holds an operation like Cross Check annually, but the circling question is whether Cross Check 2017 is different from earlier iterations. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly called this iteration "routine" and "a targeted enforcement operation," but online, President Trump dubbed it a "crackdown." Making matters less clear is that the Mexican Consulate is reporting different numbers than ICE: They've indicated that 53 people were detained in Central Texas over the weekend...."

Point Austin: Dark Thoughts on a Dark Day
What will Trump do? Watch what he's done.
News Column  November 10, 2016, by Michael King
"...Many more women and families will suffer from the lack of reproductive health care, increasingly criminalized in Texas, and soon accompanied by the state-sanctioned humiliation and emotional torture of treating fetal tissue as "unborn children" to be granted ritual burials. Should any of this sanctimonious nonsense be challenged in court as unconstitutional, we can expect that a feckless Donald Trump – for whom all such matters are beneath alpha-male consideration – will appoint federal and Supreme Court judges who will do as they are told by "pro-life" demagogues...."

Awake in the Dark
  May 19, 1995, by Patrick Taggart
"...This is the true, harrowing story of how three astronauts came very close to being left dead in orbit as a result of a freak loss of oxygen. The script is by Texans Bill Broyles and Al Reinert, Reinert being an expert on Apollo matters as director of For All Mankind..."

The Shack
The spiritual journey of a tortured soul
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Film Review  March 10, 2017, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...As usual, Octavia Spencer is game, and her God the Father has a playful lightness of spirit. Also to the film’s credit is its willingness to dip into the deep end of dark matters instead of shying away from harsh truths and hard-earned faithlessness..."

Don't Everybody Freak Out
Dark Matters' horror shows
Screens Story  October 19, 2012, by Marc Savlov
"...Fantastic Fest may have a lock on the crypt of terror when it comes to grave cinematic doings, but smart Austin Film Festival goers know from past experience that some of the best horror films tend to fall through the cracks of the exhibition/acquisition floorboards, where they end up beating away a siren song of dread like Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." We've screened three of the four AFF entries in this year's late-night Dark Matters sidebar, and we're fiendishly happy to report that your room at the Driskill is going to seem mighty creepy come bedtime this year...."

Austin Film Festival Review: The Cliff
Spanish thriller adds political intrigue to cult horror
DAILY Screens  October 18, 2016, by Richard Whittaker
"...From Rosemary's Baby to The Sacrament, filmmakers have been obsessed with the twisted vision of cults. Austin Film Festival Dark Matters Features competition jury award winner The Cliff (aka Acantilado) continues the tradition with a distinctly Iberian twist...."

Derailed
The first release from the new Weinstein Co. is this thriller starring Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen that never fully engages our sympathies.
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Film Review  November 18, 2005, by Marc Savlov
"...3, and his perceptually perfect suburban life is running perilously close to jumping completely off the tracks. To make matters worse, but infinitely more interesting, he finds himself on the train eyeing a leggy bank exec by the name of Lucinda Harris (Anniston)..."

Snow White and the Huntsman
Ambitious, brutish, and ruthlessly unromantic, this feminist reworking of the fairy tale has us under its spell.
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Film Review  June 1, 2012, by Kimberley Jones
"...Chris Hemsworth, already adept with a massive hammer as Marvel Comics' Thor, wields a mighty axe here as a drunk and grieving townie bullied into hunting Snow White. Nostrils flaring and nearly blowing steam, he practically paws the ground with a bull's fervor: a man of action, and some subtlety when it comes to matters of the heart, framed in the body of a matted-haired beast..."

Darkness
Eurotrash horror film for the new millennium.

Film Review  December 31, 2004, by Marc Savlov
"...By all reports, it’s been sitting on Miramax’s shelf for the better part of two years, and the version the Weinstein brothers have so graciously chosen to release has been editorially hung, drawn, and quartered to the point that the story makes no sense whatsoever. To make matters worse, the recutting (necessary to bring the film down to a PG-13 level from its previous hard R) seems to have been performed by a blind marionette-operator on crack, but no, it’s actually by the highly competent Luis De La Madrid of the recent, excellent The Machinist..."

The Others
I'm tempted to call The Others the best haunted house film since Robert Wise's 1963 masterstroke The Haunting. In its wonderful and subtle use of atmospherics and top-notch performances, and...
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Film Review  August 10, 2001, by Marc Savlov
"...Father Charles (Eccleston) is away at war and hasn't been heard from in many months, and Grace is struggling to keep her frayed nerves from failing completely. To make matters worse, the children suffer from an extreme photosensitivity -- exposure to direct sunlight can kill them, and so Grace (looking very much like a dour Grace Kelly) keeps the house in perpetual twilight, drawing thick velvet draperies against the light and allowing the children out of their rooms only at night..."

The War Zone
Fair warning: The War Zone can be excruciating to watch. Dealing as it does with incest and the tribulations brought unto a tightly knit British family in their wind-and-rainswept Devon...
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Film Review  February 11, 2000, by Marc Savlov
"...The scene is so fairy tailored in its normalcy it seems straight out of Tolkien. Matters take an abrupt shift in tone, however, when Tom, returning from a shopping trip with Mum, inadvertently spies his sister and father in the bathtub together..."

Fear
Stock characters and unintentionally funny dialogue doom this film about a beleaguered father who tries to protect his smitten daughter from a drug-dealing, trash-talking, randomly violent psychopath.
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Film Review  April 19, 1996, by Joey O'Bryan
"...This story of a beleaguered father (Petersen) trying to protect his smitten teenage daughter (Witherspoon) from a drug-dealing, trash-talking, randomly violent psychopath (Wahlberg) was written by Christopher Crowe, who showed promise with his work on Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans re-make in 1992, but betrays that promise here with a terribly generic screenplay filled with stock characters and unintentionally funny dialogue. To make matters worse, the film is directed by James Foley, the gifted filmmaker who brought us At Close Range, After Dark, My Sweet, and the stunning Glengarry Glen Ross..."

Open Doors
A loyal functionary in the fascist machine, fired for corruption, kills his boss, the man who replaced him and his wife. In Palermo, Sicily in 1938, there is not much...
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Film Review  June 21, 1991, by Kathleen Maher
"...Filmmaker Amelio (A Blow to the Heart) has set himself a difficult task. He has made an investigation movie in which all that is discovered matters little, and he has made a movie about an internal battle in a very reticent man..."

Only Lovers Left Alive
In this hypnotic love story, Jim Jarmusch gives us vampires who are bohemian outsiders and not blood-sucking freaks.
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Film Review  April 25, 2014, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...You can rest assured if you’ve been worrying that Jim Jarmusch – the arthouse auteur and one of the reigning royals of independent cinema – has bowed to the demands of Hollywood trendiness with this vampire picture that’s been making the festival rounds since its debut in Cannes last May. Despite being a film that features vampires as the central protagonists, Only Lovers Left Alive is less about matters of blood and its acquisition than what it takes for love and romance to survive over centuries...."

The Punisher
Strictly from the so-bad-it's-good school of entertainment.

Film Review  April 16, 2004, by Marc Savlov
"...Jane, who speaks with the bizarre delivery of Highlander’s Christopher Lambert (he sounds poorly dubbed even though he isn’t), plays this broad vendetta of a character ramrod straight, which turns The Punisher into an overwrought, melodramatic comedy. It doesn’t help matters that the script, from Hensleigh and Michael France, has more holes in it than all of its corpses put together, and never misses an opportunity to milk any bad action cliché..."

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