Welcome to another edition of Over/Under Movies, the podcast in which we pick one overrated film and one underrated film — similar in tone, genre, style, or however we see fit — and we discuss them.
We’re doing things a bit differently on this chapter, as my co-host Oktay Ege Kozak has chosen three underrated or hard-to-find titles from The Criterion Collection. We start with Kon Ichikawa’s 1956 anti-war film “The Burmese Harp,” about a pacifist soldier who becomes a monk after Japan surrenders in World War II. Comparisons are briefly drawn to last year’s Oscar-nominated “Hacksaw Ridge,” as both films feature a pacifist protagonist who won’t carry a gun. But, unlike that film’s fetishization of violence during the battle scenes, Oktay makes the case for Ichikawa’s film being a true anti-war film that doesn’t succumb to the contradiction of peacemaking juxtaposed with visceral, well-shot action.
Speaking of contradiction, we move to Fedrico Fellini’s 1957 film “The Nights of Cabiria,” which features Giulietta Masina in quite possibly her finest role as a prostitute who gets into misadventures looking for love in the streets of Rome. While admittedly the film is beloved (it won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1958 and is featured in the IMDb Top 250), it is strangely the most difficult to find title of the three films we discuss (the Criterion DVD has been out of print for quite some time). We both agree that it’s a beautiful film that should be sought after right away.
Finally, we move from the bright lights of 1950’s Italy to 1980’s California to discuss Samuel Fuller’s no-holds-barred “White Dog.” Criterion released the controversial film on home video for the very first time in 2008, after Paramount shelved it in 1982 and only held a few screenings in that 26-year period. Fuller’s film about a “white dog” — a dog who is trained at youth to attack black people — pulls no punches, and it sadly still holds a relevance in our current sociopolitical climate. While uneven, it’s a film that’s truly underrated and demands to be seen.
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