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I guess I cannot agree with the ratings here on IMDb every time.
For example I just saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World rated 8.0 then I seen this movie, Love Ranch only 5.3 -- and while the general public still seems to be in love with the youthful glee based in symbolic fantastic fake X-box gaming TRONlike facade of Scott Pilgrim, they seem to rank an incredible life scenario reality based movie, Love Ranch which is based on a couple in their sixties based on a true story, as it were borderline doggy do. Once again, I guess most movie goers would rather not handle the truth.
I must admit, when I was watching Love Ranch, I was reminded of the movie Papillon, in which they tried to fit a two week read into a two hour movie. I thought I was watching the same kind of movie making from a book being made into 2 hour script reducing it to bits and pieces of condensed scenes. But I guess it was merely a rushed screenplay and not a condensed book when I read about it on IMDb. I suppose part of the problem could have been the spontaneous direction in the seemingly rushed storyline.
Other than that I would give this movie with better editing and direction of script a 9 or 10 rating because the intense reality and grip of the characters like between Helen and the boxer. This was incredibly well done... may sometimes been kind of unbelievable, but in the end their impeccable acting crafts both pulled together a gripping story.
I think without a doubt it could and should have been handled better through production, but the movie itself is infinitely more meaningful than a teeny love triangular crap as in the movie I spoke of earlier.
All in all a great movie that needed to be nurtured a lot more to be made into a fantastic movie.
Over the years, I haven't agreed with a lot of the reviews on this
site, and this is the case with this movie. I just never bothered to
sign up to contribute until now, after just watching this movie.
The film starts out drab, with unsympathetic characters on dead end story arches, which is exactly how it fools the viewer. By the middle of the movie, you realize your notions about them and their journeys were wrong, and in the end, you know there's a reason the movie is loaded with high caliber talent.
And considering it's based on real events, it's all the more interesting and compelling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LOVE STORY is a peculiar movie. It is based on the true story of the
notorious Mustang Ranch just outside of Reno, Nevada, a brothel that
was world famous run by a couple by the name of Joe and Sally Conforte
who had chutzpah and an ongoing run-in with the IRS and the law in
bringing in boxer Oscar Buenovena as an addendum to their game of
wealth. The facts of the brothel's existence are true as are the
characters portrayed in the film, but a considerable amount of artistic
license as to dates and chronology of event were taken by writer Mark
Jacobson. The result is a strange conglomeration of a story, boring as
roadkill during the first half but awakening into a rather tender
melodrama in the second half. And it is worth the wait. Taylor Hackford
directs his wife Helen Mirren, and as we have come to expect, anytime
Mirren is in a film there is at least a modicum of fine acting.
The Confortes become the Bontempos for LOVE RANCH (aka Mustang Ranch of history) and Joe Pesci as Charlie Bontempo is an ex-con with a potty mouth who married Grace (Helen Mirren) 20 some years ago, and together they have built the world's largest brothel - the first legal one in Nevada. Grace at first is cheap and tacky, walking with a cane and constantly reminding Charlie of her importance: her character changes a it when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer by her doctor (Broadway singing star Harve Presnell in a tiny and last role; he died in 2009) . Charlie beds all the women who work at Love Ranch and Grace is aware of it. Grace befriends her 'staff' - Gina Gershon, Ling Bai, Taryn Manning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Elise Neal among others - and Charlie tends to the business of promoting the Ranch as well as taking chances with other projects, such as tempting famous Argentine boxer Armando Bruza (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) to move to the Ranch for training in preparation for a fight with (supposedly) Muhammed Ali. Bruza arrives and insists Grace be his manager and she reluctantly accepts out of a sense of being attracted to Bruza. Her girls, especially Irene (Gina Gershon) encourage Grace to live for the moment and give in to the desire for an affair with Bruza. Grace and Bruza do indeed find each other's soft core and fall in love. Bruza is prepared for a fight, but in the fight he staggers through the first rounds only to win by a late surprise knockout: Grace rushes Bruza to the hospital because of his unstable status and there she discovers Bruza suffered a previous brain injury years ago resulting the placement of a metal plate in his skull. This discovery and the events that it initiates bring the film to a tender but tragic end - on many levels.
The cinematography by Kieran McGuigan is splendid when surveying the beauty of the land around Reno but uncomfortably monochromatic through most of the rest of the film. The musical score by Chris Bacon (who has many fine credits for other films) is almost unbearably bad. Joe Pesci, made up to look very old, is in this viewer's opinion miscast: he rarely gets beyond being a screaming filthy mouthed moron. Helen Mirren transforms Grace from a tawdry Madame to a truly beautiful but tired partner for Charlie, opting to spend her few final days with one who can demonstrate his care for her. Sergio Peris-Mencheta manages to make his blustering character one of compassion and vulnerability.
In all this is a movie that, once over, seems well worth watching as the credits reveal all the facts about the destinies of everyone involved in the story. Get past the first half hour or so and you're in for a fine film.
The film has two sags: One very early on in Act I and another late in
Act II. In observing a small private audience that was viewing this
film, they were all very much engaged in the drama and the action
throughout, but they were nearly lost during the two sags. If it were
not for those, the film might have attracted a larger audience.
This is not the story of the Mustang Ranch, per se, but rather the story an ambiguous love triangle. (I am thoroughly aware of the Mustang Ranch story, and know Joe Conforte's attorney and best friend, Virgil Bucchanieri, quite well). For example, the film does not use the gimmick of trying to exaggerate the characters that inhabit the brothel, and resists the temptation of trying to replicate the exotica of the Star Wars bar scene.
The real test for a film with this class of story arc is the degree to which we care about the characters mid-way through Act II. Do we care what happens to them in Act III? I and the other audience members all agreed that we did and we shed the expected tears in a tense moment between the dreamer, played by Joe Pesci, and the determined pragmatist, played by Helen Mirren, in the penultimate scene. None of the central or supporting roles were in any way "cardboard" characters.
The production values were quite high and the number of technical errors were minimal (three errors with production sound that really should have been fixed in post plus a couple of continuity errors). Music was very subtle to the point of vanishing at times. There was no attempt at creating a photographic theme: it was all shot color-balanced at neutral without any exaggerated focus-pulls, odd camera framing or moves (but a lot of crane rentals were involved), Pro-mist filters, or too many magic hour shots. That is, the cinematography did not draw attention away from the drama.
The film resolves unambiguously with a shock ending that is well worth waiting for. My final test of entertainment value is: "Are there any scenes in this film that I will remember and repeat in my mind's eye the next day?" I would say that there are such scenes, and I therefore give this picture a 7 out of 10.
The thing that stands out immediately in "Love Ranch" is not the girls, not the 1970s clothes, but the amazing photography. Almost every outdoor scene could be the vista for a postcard. The story itself seems to drag in places, and then suddenly rush to a conclusion, with narration to tidy up the ending. The acting by Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci is terrific as expected, and a small scene with Harve Presnell a pleasant surprise. What is not a surprise is the tale of the Mustang Ranch on which the movie is based. It's tough to overcome the familiarity of a story often aired on cable over the last two decades. - MERK
I sought this movie out on DVD because it's cinema release was negligible, and anything with Helen Mirren will have some merit. I can only imagine it's almost invisible release was due to the inability of the youthful marketeers to easily identify the box in which to place it, romance, thriller, gangster flic? For those of us who don't care about such trite labels, this is an interesting movie, characters with some depth, it's not really about goodies or baddies, or even right or wrong, it's a story, with some romance, some humour, some sex, some drama, great performances from stalwarts and what should have been a launch pad to international stardom for the young Spaniard...fear not Sergio, we will see you again. I liked it a lot and really recommend it to people who enjoy films about other people rather than machines and/or concepts!
Something went wrong with this Taylor Hackford film which showed on
cable recently. It boasts a good cast and it is a story based on a true
story. The right elements should have come together to make this entry
worth watching. The culprit seems to lie in the screenplay written by
Mark Jacobson, which does not take advantage of the subject he was
The story of Grace and Charley Bontempo, the owners of the brothel in the Nevada desert, lent itself for a lot more than comes out in the story. The owners had apparently a good relationship, although it becomes apparent there was no love left between them as the story begins. Charley had been cheating on Grace with anyone of the prostitutes in the place. Grace, the brain behind the business, finds out about the cancer she had to deal with, something that evidently has an effect on her dealings with their business.
Charley, a first class wheeler-dealer, sees an opportunity when Armando Bruza, an Argentine boxer, he discovers with a potential to go places. Grace did not appreciate that Bruza will move to the Love Motel, as Charley wants. Bruza develops an affection for the older woman, who takes the plunge, falling in love with the boxer, something that will lead into fatal consequences.
The main reason for watching "Love Ranch" is Helen Mirren's performance. She makes a case for Grace, the jaded madam of the house of ill repute. At times she seems not to be comfortable with her character, the way the script asks her to play her. Joe Pesci does his routine of being a wise guy. It is fun to watch him utter those four letter words he spices his vocabulary with. Sergio Peris-Mencheta is Bruza, the boxer who fell for the older woman. Gina Gershon does not have much to do.
Love Ranch is a fictionalized bio-pic, loosely based on the true story of Joe & Sally Conforte. The Conforte's were the first people to open a legalized brothel in the state of Nevada and for a while, became local celebrities, until it all came crashing down. It was an interesting story, following the lives of two people, that most of us don't know anything about. As for the film, while it over-dramatized a lot of the events, it really fails to make much of an impact. There are scenes that make these two look like gangsters, others that make them look like royalty, and several that just makes them look like trailer trash. The truth is that it was hard to really decipher the true character of these people and figure out what they were really like. I was mildly interested in the story, but what I really wanted to see was the return of Joe Pesci. Since retiring in 1999, Pesci had a cameo in one film, but this is was his first leading role since Lethal Weapon 4. For the living legend, it was as if he had never stopped, giving a terrific performance. The only disappointing thing was that they kept Pesci's classic, profanity laced tirades to a minimum, but other than that, he was really terrific. Helen Mirren on the other hands kind of annoyed me in this film. She's always been an amazing actress, but her performance was really all over the place. I guess it has to do with the emotional state of the woman she was playing, but to be honest I was very unimpressed by what I saw from her. While it was great to see Joe Pesci back on the big screen, the Love Ranch was really just a mass of confusion that was all over the place. It was nearly impossible to separate the truth from the Hollywood bull, when personalities and situations are changing so rapidly. If you love Joe Pesci, you won't want to miss his comeback, but the film that brought him out of retirement, really isn't anything special.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Boxer name, Bruza, no doubt is linked with almost mythical boxing
manager Amílcar Brusa, who trained some good boxers, among them the big
Carlos Monzon. Amilcar Brusa passed away a couple of weeks ago.
The first fight in the movie I believe is inspired in one of the best fights I've even seen: Victor Galindez (the real and unique "Toro salvage De las Pampas) Vs. Richie Kates. It worth to be some scenes of the match, if you like boxing:
HTTP://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SXXwnFhdKY I can't see the rest of the movie.
Helen Mirren there along with Joe Pesci...I don't know. Also, the "Argentinian" way of the character...I guess they should be some Argentinian actor to work in the movie...
Picture a caricature of everything that America, at some level, holds
dear, yet despises. Think bling, brash, frantically optimistic and
determinedly selfish, and you have the main character typecast by a
weathered Joe Pesci. Add to the mix an insecure, yet intelligent and
reasonably efficient brothel "madam" who is trapped by economics and an
irresponsible, hyperactive, and deliberately delusional husband, and.
you have a marriage which must resonate across the globe.
The film opens with an ironic and trite hope for the future. Auld Lang Syne is sung at a New Year's Eve party, which Robert Burnes, no stranger to joys of the flesh himself, would possibly have avoided. A stark naked man who has transcended the bounds of good taste, and possibly the law, is driven by the "Madam" (Helen Mirren) into the waiting furniture wielded by her husband, Pesci. The tame police in attendance remove the problem and the party continues.
Gradually the dynamics of the Pesci/Mirren relationship are revealed. She actually likes her charges and comforts herself in the knowledge that she is keeping them off the streets.
He struts around like a dove with an over-inflated breast, a disgustingly showy car with the vanity plate "LUV SEX", and the nickname of "Mr Good Times". He is a man whose very posture suggests violence, and he has only to threaten to smash the home telephone, her link to the outside world, to ensure that her timid attempt at rebellion turns into a whimpering desire to please him.
Pleasing him in the only way he understands is not that easy as she is older than the available nymphets and is very aware that his sudden business calls are not to any office block. The marriage of financial and social convenience could, theoretically, have lasted for years, as many convenient couples will attest, but reality has the unpleasant habit of intruding. A visit to the doctor and plastic convenience is stripped away. The selfishness of her husband is expertly conveyed in his answer to her questioning his love for her. "I *** love you," he says, "I could have never found a woman as loyal as you to take my s***." It says everything that he is totally unaware of the egocentric nature of his declaration of love.
Later, when their world is falling apart, and she is experiencing loss, and almost claustrophobic grief,he rails at her that she doesn't know what the **** he went through all night.
The tragic moment which announces the end of the film is justified by the quality of the acting. Yes, this could happen, and be a small article on the front page of the morning newspapers, but the film has made its point before the actual violence. It is all about self, the need for self-validation at the expense of others, the need to be desirable, the need to be in control, and even the need to be physically dominant while all these have inevitably and irrevocably been taken away by time.
It is a film worthy of a second viewing, if only to enjoy the performance of Pesci (which he has reprized from Goodfellas) and the revelation which is Helen Mirren. That she could go from the ultra- British role as the Queen to this, without a trace of genteel accent, but retain all the pathos of a woman who wants to love her husband and her life, is remarkable. Even the director gives her credit in an in- joke. When her husband dons a hat in keeping with his personality, she asks him who he thinks he is, 'Clint Eastwood'. He replies: "Who do you think you are? The Queen of England?"
Eminently watchable, character-driven, and filmed with an understated slickness, this is a film which might, regrettably, not set the box office alight, but which is very worth viewing for so many reasons. True, there are elements that echo events in some well-known films, which my spoiler-conscience prevents me from naming, but it is safe to say that this film strips the sentimentality from such and is the better for it. Taylor Hackford, I look forward to your next.
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