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Screening the Past, Electric Sheep, DVDs, More

On the day that Australia's Labor Party secured just enough seats to limp into a second term, out comes a new issue of Screening the Past to confirm that the country's film culture is in far better shape. The centerpiece of Issue 28 is a set of interviews that make up part of the ongoing Australian Film Theory and Criticism Project; they're bookended by essays, beginning with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas's on Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960, image above), and over two dozen book reviews.

"Futuristic Cities: Cinematic Visions of Metropolises to Come" is the theme of Issue 43 of Electric Sheep. "We have articles on Fritz Lang's restored silent classic Metropolis, Escape from New York, a Reel Sounds column on Things to Come, an Alter Ego column where Ed Hollis tells us why he would be Wall-E if he were a film character and an interview with Michael Winterbottom on Code 46 and more!"



Dave Kehr: "Frank Borzage's back-to-back Kay Francis films of 1935, Living on Velvet and Stranded, may not be among his most fully realized works — Velvet, in particular, suffers from a clumsily imposed happy ending — but they make a lovely matched set." For the New York Times, he reviews the pair of releases from the Warner Film Archive.

"Last week VCI Entertainment released two obscure DVDs into the wild," writes R Emmet Sweeney for TCM: "William Witney's Apache Rifles (1964) and Four in the Morning (1965), which features Judi Dench in her first leading role. Neither are deathless masterpieces, but each are valuable in their own inimitable way. Witney, a prolific director of movie serials for Republic Pictures (he specialized in Roy Rogers and Dick Tracy films, among scores of others), has a small (and growing) auteurist cult, receiving plaudits from Quentin Tarantino in recent years. In 2000, he told the NY Times that, 'William Witney is ahead of them all, the one whose movies I can show to anyone and they are just blown away.'"

DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Peter Martin (Cinematical), Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel, Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times), PopMatters, Stephen Saito (IFC), Slant and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).



The Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival opens today and runs through Sunday. The Chronicle has capsule reviews of its recommendations, while Cindy Widner talks with the stars of the widely beloved doc Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and James Renovitch spotlights The Adults in the Room.

Meantime, the 34th Montreal World Film Festival has just wrapped. Dispatches have come in from Gerald Peary to the Boston Phoenix and Rania Richardson to the House Next Door.

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