Oscar Season Challenge – The Hunting Ground (2015)

Continuing our Oscar Season of reviews, Rob and I have decided to pick one of the best Oscar nominated documentaries.


huntingDirector: Kirby Dick

Writer: Kirby Dick (Screenplay)



Plot: An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Important News


Story: The Hunting Ground starts as we see the real reaction of college students getting accepting into their choices before we move into the real issue this film is about. We follow interviews with a string of students who experienced sexual assaults during their time at college and how little the college helped support them.

We go through certain cases that are more intense, following both females and males that have been raped and how the statistics show that no college is take responsibility for what happen on their grounds. We see how certain survivors fight to find a way to make more victims speak up and change how rape is reported.

The Hunting Ground is a film focusing on a real problem in America with how the colleges deal with rape, the film points out that the victims are to blame which is a huge no to say to any victim. Growing up in England I have never been exposed to the college style that Americans go through other than from film, so my look into the world everything is happening is never going to be full supported. Coming in from the outside all I could think about was the naïve nature of the American treat the idea of American football being more important that morale correct ideas. This is a difficult watch because of the nature of the material but also comes off as a forced way to expose a culture which is considered normal in America



Director Review: Kirby DickKirby gives us an important insight into what is happening at these schools as well as how important change is needed in these locations.


Documentary: The Hunting Ground is very important to see because it does open the eyes to what is really happening.

Settings: The Hunting Ground brings us to all the big colleges in America to show what is happening in America where all the students are trying build their future.

Suggestion: The Hunting Ground is something for all Americans to see because we don’t have the issues like this in England. (Americans Watch)


Best Part: Important things to learn about.

Worst Part: Difficult to watch


Believability: Based on the real accounts and interviews of the victims only.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for an Oscar

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

Tagline: Their dream school will become a nightmare.


Overall: Important documentary that really shows the problem in American colleges



The List Challenge

The List Challenge

When it comes to writing about films it is always great to meet as many fellow writers and fans of all genres of film. I have come up with his hugely ambitious project where anybody who wants to take part can add their review to any of these list.

What this means is you write review on your own site and we link it to our list, at the end of each week we will give an update and you can read all the reviews from the people taking part in the list challenge. I am aware that some of the films will appear on more than one list.

I hope to see plenty of films fans come and join in, email moviereviews101@yahoo.co.uk for more information and suggestion on lists to be added.

The lists available now are:

1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die1001 to see pic

101 Action Movies to Watch Before You Dieaction

101 Sci-Fi Movies to Watch Before You Diesci fi

101 Horror Movies to Watch Before You Diehorror

The Mammoth List of Slashersslashers

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

The latest film Rob selected this documentary and reading the basic plot I walked in thinking while it would be sad it would be a tribute film, but boy was I wrong and tissues were required.

 rob challengedear xa

Director: Kurt Kuenne

Writer: Kurt Kuenne (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Kuenne, Andrew Bagby, David Bagby, Kathleen Bagby, Shirley Turner


Plot: A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend’s ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Heart-breaking Story


Story: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father starts with the home videos and interviews with friends, family and colleagues of the late Andrew Bagby. We do know that he has been killed and that this film is a tribute to his son to watch one day. We learn what type of man Andrew was and who the main suspect in his murder was, we watch how his parents David and Kathleen what the lady Shirley charged for his murder but she flees.

This all comes off as a story you would watch to see how twisted humans can be and our director Kurt Kuenne sets out on making a tribute video for the first twist in the story a Shirley announces she is pregnant with Andrew’s son Zachary. We watch how the events from David & Kathleen have to fight custody against Shirley but the final twist in this real story will leave you devastated.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a film I want to look at in two different ways, first I am start by looking at how this was designed to be a message to the son whose father is murdered, it really is amazing to see how many people were touched by this one man and even if we didn’t see the rest of the events this would be a great story and memory. In the second half of my views is that this film shows just how the world is filled with people like Shirley and her action along with the criminal law need to change to stop the final tragedy in this story happens. Mixing the tribute film with the events brings added emotions to what happened and if you never knew the story you will end up shocked.


Director Review: Kurt KuenneKurt gives us one of the best documentaries in recent years and the personal touch helps play on all the emotions.


Crime: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father shows the crime that has been committed and the consequences.

Documentary: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father starts as a tribute like film and fast turns into the touching heart breaking story of what really happened.

Suggestion: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a film that should be watched by all at least once. (Watch)


Best Part: Impact

Worst Part: The reality.


Believability: It is based on the tragic real story.

Chances of Tears: Yes

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes


Overall: Truly a heart breaking movie that will leave you in tears


Roxanne (1987)

Rob pick yet another Steve Martin, I guess some people find him funny so here it the latest film.rob challengeroxanne


Director: Fred Schepisi

Writer: Steve Martin (Screenplay) Edmond Rostand (Play)

Starring: Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich, Shelley Duvall, John Kapelos, Fred Willard, Max Alexander, Michael J Pollard, Damon Wayans


Plot: Based on the play “Cyrano de Bergerac”, large nosed C.D. Bales falls for the beautiful Roxanne while she falls for his personality but another man’s looks.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Blah Comedy


Story: Roxanne starts as we follow C D Bales (Martin) one of the most popular guys in town, he knows everyone but he has one flaw, he has a huge nose (while this isn’t an issue now a days), he is fire chief in the town. When a new local lady Roxanne (Hannah) finds herself locked out of her house naked she turns to the fire chief to help her get back in. Roxanne is trying to find herself a new man and C D could be one potential guy but fellow new fire fighter Chris (Rossovich) built like a stud could also be the right guy.

On a strange twist of events C D does fall for Roxanne but he ends up playing matchmaker between Chris and Roxanne where he clearly sees them being wrong for each other.

Roxanne is a comedy that could have a meaning about not worrying about what you look like but in the end it is all about taking chances. There does have the meaning about not picking on people because of their psychical appearance. In the end everything comes off very obvious and the support attempts of comedy just fall flat by the end of the film. This really is a very generically plain story that will not test you will not make you laugh and won’t leave you with a smile on your face.


Actor Review


Steve Martin: C.D. Bales is the fire chief in town that gets on with all of the locals even though he has a giant nose which new people instantly get drawn too. He meets the beautiful and smart Roxanne where he instantly falls for but only ends up playing matchmaker for her and new guy in town. He has all the charm, he is funny but his nose holds him back. Steve gives the performance you would expect to see from him.

Daryl Hannah: Roxanne is the beautiful and intelligent new woman to the town who gets the attention from C D and Chris where she wants to meet a new guy different from what she is used too. Daryl does a solid job in this role but she isn’t the best at comedy.

Rick Rossovich: Chris is the new attractive man who is turning all the heads of all the ladies in town, he strikes up an attraction to Roxanne. He turns to C D for advice getting a date with Roxanne but his true nature of having no ability to talk to the ladies shows through. Rick does a good job but seems to get stuck in the shadow of Martin shadow.

Shelley Duvall: Dixie is the local lady that helps with the gossip around town, she is the go to girl for C D for talk to and learn what Roxanne really is interested. Shelley doesn’t give too much to the film really.

Support Cast: Roxanne has a supporting cast that is targeted for the added laughs and don’t have much impact on the story.

Director Review: Fred SchepisiFred gives us a basic comedy that doesn’t give enough laughs for my own liking.


Comedy: Roxanne has basic laughs that don’t really work for me.

Romance: Roxanne has an uncomfortable romantic angles throughout.

Settings: Roxanne uses a small town for the setting which does help show how close the community is.

Suggestion: Roxanne is one for all the Steve Martin fans to watch but otherwise well you have to like the comedy. (Steve Martin Fans)


Best Part: The fire station group are funny in moments.

Worst Part: Awkward romance angles.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $40 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Tagline: Roxanne dreamed of a handsome, intelligent, romantic man. C.D. Bales is two out of three… but looks aren’t everything!


Overall: Slow moving comedy that doesn’t have a real sparkle.


The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

rob challengeThis weeks challenge from Rob iscandudayeDirector: John Frankenheimer

Writer: George Axelrod (Screenplay) Richard Condon (Novel)

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory


Plot: A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Dated & Slow


Story: The Manchurian Candidate starts when Raymond Shaw (Harvey) returns from the Korean war as a hero getting one of the few medal of honours. His mother Eleanor (Lansbury) and step father Senator Iselin (Gregory) use his new fame to help the Senator’s campaign for re-election.

We meet Major Marco (Sinatra) who is having nightmares about Raymond Shaw and the rest of his unit and wants to get to the bottom of it all. As Major Marco’s paranoia continues to grow he starts to think he might have been part of a mind control experiment and Shaw isn’t who the world sees.

The Manchurian Candidate is a very low moving story that has been built into a real conspiracy theory being from around. I do feel this is only the stepping stones to the idea and in the modern world it would be a lot easier to cover this up. We are left to basically deal with one man being pushed hypnotised into making the next President by taking out the people who stand in his way. It’s all interesting but this just goes too slowly to pull you right in.


Actor Review


Frank Sinatra: Major Bennett Marco is the man who lead the unit with Raymond Shaw in, he is plagued by nightmares about what potentially happened with mind control. He tries to investigate what could have happened and what he finds will change American history forever. Frank gives us a good performance but you do feel like there could have been a higher intensity to his character.

Laurence Harvey: Raymond Shaw is the war hero, returning with the Medal of Honour, but he is really just being placed in a position to help the Government to unleash their undercover assassin. Laurence does a good job in this role where he looks the part as the everyday good guy.

Janet Leigh: Eugenie Rose Chaney is the stranger on the train that meets Bennett and seems to understand what he is going through as well as opening the doors for a romantic angle. Janet is in the film but doesn’t get much screen time.

Angela Lansbury: Mrs Eleanor Shaw Iselin is the mother of Raymond who is controlling her husband Senator to uncover the communism going on with in the US government. Angela is the star of the show as the manipulative woman trying to elect the next President.

Henry Silva: Chunjin is the translator that worked with the unit in the past and gets placed with Shaw to protect the asset, he instantly clashes with Bennett. Henry has a good fight scene but is never used enough for my liking.


Support Cast: The Manchurian Candidate has a supporting cast that includes the other players in the Presidential race but none get the screen time required.

Director Review: John FrankenheimerJohn bought us a good thriller for the time but due to increased use of technology it almost feels dated now.


Thriller: The Manchurian Candidate does keep you guessing but never puts you on the edge of your seat.

Settings: The Manchurian Candidate has the settings you would expect to see these characters in which does help with the film but nothing really stands out.

Suggestion: The Manchurian Candidate is one to try and is one if you like the classic film you would enjoy otherwise you will find it slow. (Classic Film Fans)


Best Part: The idea.

Worst Part: It has dated.


Believability: Depends what you believe in the conspiracy.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Budget: $2.2 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

Tagline: Once unbelievable. Now unthinkable.

Trivia: According to Howard W. Koch, the budget was $2,200,000. Of that amount $1,000,000 went for star Frank Sinatra’s salary with another $200,000 for Laurence Harvey, leaving only $1,000,000 for everything else.


Overall: A great idea that is a film that could be a brilliant television show now