Staff Pick: "Belladonna of Sadness" at the Gateway Film Center

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive
"Belladonna of Sadness"

One of the great conundrums of the advent of streaming entertainment - be it music, TV or movies - is that it has removed the concept of scarcity.

I suspect the fact that you can listen to virtually every album ever recorded from a device in the palm of your hand is part of what's brought back vinyl collecting.

The same holds true for films, as fewer and fewer are truly hard to find. That's what makes this week's theatrical release of "Belladonna of Sadness" at the Gateway Film Center a big deal.

The animated Japanese feature film, from 1973, is both beautiful and bizarre - a tale of violence, deals with the devil and sex. And it's gained a cult following despite never having been released in the U.S. (It's often dubbed "erotic," although that's in the eye of the beholder.)

One thing is safe to say: You won't see something like this on a big screen often. The first half has the visual feel of a storybook - more prone to pans over beautiful drawn and painted stills than traditional animation.

But things get wild as we go deeper into the movie. The psychedelic aspect of the animation is another reason for its cult status. I would never recommend my loyal readers attend a movie in a public place in altered states, but you're all adults, right?

Bottom line: If art-house erotic psychedlelic anime sounds like your thing, you probably should check this out.

"Belladonna of Sadness"

Select showings at the Gateway Film Center, May 20-23