Film: Belladonna of Sadness (Kanashimi no Beradonna)

This psychedelic, swirling, animated film was lost since its original production when the Japanese Mushi Pro company went bankrupt. It’s being re-released this year and I stumbled on it purely by accident at the Alamo Drafthouse. Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto the movie depicts a medieval world where a happy couple (Jean and Jeanne) is violently disrupted when the king rapes the woman. Her once innocent world changes forever and she soon enters a pact with the devil to save her and her new husband. Through beautiful sometimes shocking art, inspired by western artists such as Klimt and Mucha, backed by undulating progressive rock tracks the film explores themes of witchcraft, sexuality, woman, and society. While incredibly beautiful, this film is definitely not for the little ones. The imagery is explicit and intense. I left this screening feeling at once disquieted and speechless from the striking beauty and searing pain it portrays hand in hand.

– Jessica Webster



Podcast: Pop Culture Happy Hour, by NPR

I know, I know, NPR is by definition nationally available for free and easily accessible, even with old technology. BUT, did you know that they have some programs that aren’t on the radio? Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH) is a web-only show covering the week in – you guessed it – pop culture! I know I’m getting kind of meta here (I hope I used that term correctly) because the purpose of the Conversation Collective is to offer note-worthy cultural-media tidbits as well, but so far, I’m just not as smart or funny as the hosts and guests on this show. Also, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to recommendations by people with excellent taste. Sure, maybe good books will pile up even higher beside your bed, but there are worse problems to have. Considering that it’s their job to review every new piece of media that comes their way, these ladies and gentlemen have a host of recommendations and commentary on every genre and subject imaginable. Need a graphic novel for girls between the ages of 8 and 12? Want to know why “guilty pleasures” aren’t real? Unable to articulate all the things you did or didn’t like about the latest superhero movie? Look no further than PCHH. Each week, the show covers a recent popular movie, show, book, conference, celebrity etc. (something making a buzz), a topic of conversation (such as the Bechdel test) and personal recommendations from each panelist. There’s also the occasional trivia quiz or other segment. I have to be honest, it’s been a while since I listened to this podcast because it’s really hard to pay attention to anything for more than 5 minutes with two young kids running amuck, but I long for the day when I can get back to taking furious notes and cackling over what PCHH recommends or bashes.

– Karissa Tucker



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