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Love Ranch

DVD
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 5.44
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting based on true story Oct. 9 2011
By Cheryl TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
This is an interesting film that had it been marketed properly might have found its audience. There is so much to the story that director Taylor Hackford had a difficult time choosing which scenes to delete (as every one has him verbally lamenting its loss, for those interested in his commentary), but the run time of the film is still approx. 2 hrs. Though the backdrop concerns the struggles of a legal Nevada brothel run by a husband and wife business team, much of the film is about character, and how individually, each came to this point. The well-researched story is fascinating, and the film, perfectly cast with great performances. My only complaint (aside from poor marketing) is a narrated ending which rushes to give a lot of information to the conclusion. Overall, little touches to the pacing could have made it smoother. Blu-ray extras include an intro by director and wife/star Helen Mirren, deleted scenes and director commentary.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste Nov. 25 2010
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
The year is 1976, and Grace and Charlie Bontempo operate a legal brothel in Reno. Ever the hustler, Charlie buys an up-and-coming boxer from Argentina whom Grace at first dislikes, but later comes to love.

The movie, based on a true story, is tawdry and unpleasant, loaded with profanity and so tedious it was hard to finish. Helen Mirren looks like she hates being in every scene and her innate dignity doesn't fit the low-life character she plays. As her husband, Joe Pesci is repulsive and hard to watch while Sergio Peris-Mencheta lacked charisma as the boxer.

The whole story seems as dry and pointless as the Reno desert landscape. The movie isn't entertaining, it's just a boring story about unsympathetic losers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like "Raging Bull" (boxing) and the F-word (Joe Pesci) than about a brothel. And the first half looks like a B-movie Nov. 8 2010
By Steven I. Ramm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
More like "Raging Bull" (boxing) and the F-word (Joe Pesci) than about a brothel. And the first half looks like a B-movie

I'm a HUGE Helen Mirren fan, and I loved the DVD version of Director Taylor Hackford's film "Ray", so I was anxious to see this film, directed by Hackford and starring Mirren (his wife). Before watching the film, I clicked on the "bonus features" and watched the six-minute "Introduction" by Hackford and Mirren. It looks like it was filmed in their living room with home video camera. Hackford was doing most of the talking and Mirren looked like they had just woken her up. Not a good start.

Then I played the film. It is based on the life of Reno's famed Mustang Ranch brothel in the 1970s and owner Joe Conforte and his wife. The "R" rating appears at the beginning and the explanation is "sexual situations and strong violence". Hmmm...... a film about a whore house with no nudity? Strange. Well, as another reviewer pointed out, for the first 45 minutes of the film, it looks like Mirren is sleepwalking through her role, and the hairdo she wears looks like a cheap wig (it isn't). Co-star Joe Pesci reprises his standard "Good Fellas" persona with the F-word being more than half of his dialogue (I'd love to have seen his dialogue portion of the script.). But after that 30-40 minutes, things change and we get real acting from Mirren. You'll know when that starts because she loses the curly hair and for the rest of the film its her standard straight hairstyle. (Was this symbolism that Hackford was giving us?).

Anyway, if you looked at the cover art, you'd never know that this is a film about boxing, yet a good portion takes place in the ring with Hackford trying to make the fight scenes look like "Raging Bull" - though in color! - with a lot of graphic violence. The whole business of prostitution takes a back seat (one waaaay back!).

The bonuses included deleted scenes (with commentary) and a full-length audio commentary track with Hackford. It was hard enough to sit through this film once,, so I passed on listening to that.

So, Mirren fans may want to see this film but should know not to expect anything approaching "The Queen". (There's a moment in the film where Pesci, as her husband says (between the F-word) "Who do you think you are? The Queen?". Far from it Joe!

Hopefully Hackford will get his act together and start making quality films again. This certainly isn't it.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CLASSY MIRREN Nov. 1 2010
By The Movie Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Joe Pesci is typed cast as a New Jersey thug. He plays the co-owner of the Love Ranch (Mustang Ranch) Charlie Bontempo (Joe Conforte). His co-owner wife, Grace (Sally Burgess) is played by the classy Helen Mirren. They had owned illegal brothels, which appears to have been easier than the headaches associated with legal ones and having to deal with "25 psychotics," as Grace puts it. The movie captured the bikini clad girls of the era. There is brief nudity and sexual situations as one would expect from such a movie, but it is minimal. Pesci drops the f-bomb like only Pesci can. The movie failed to capture the frequent celebrity appearances at the ranch. It focuses on the year 1976. Grace finds out she has cancer and maybe six months to live. She tries to tell Charlie, who is too busy with the talent. Charlie gets an idea for Argentinian boxer Bruza (Oscar Bonavena) to train at the ranch to attract clients. While at the ranch Bruza and Grace have an affair. The movie is based on a true story and did a fair job in following it. The closing dialogue of the movie implies that the ranch's tax problems came shortly after the shooting of Bruza in 1976. That is not true. It wasn't until 1990 that the IRS took over the Ranch and Joe Conforte fled to Brazil. The Mustang II ranch shown at the end of the movie was erected in 1982.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snooze through the first half, Wake up for the Second Half Oct. 7 2010
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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. Grady Harp, October 10
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique and Captivating LOVE STORY Feb. 28 2011
By MsBookntu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I REALLY love the movie. Maybe its because I'm about the same age as Helen Mirren appears to be in the film but I was captivated by the entire story - in particular after the Boxer professed his interest in her. I think that the stark contrast between the hard world of prostitution compared to the abandon to the passion of the moment and the truly tender romance between the two lovers, both of them hardened and deeply injured by life, made for great drama and tragedy. Their wild abandon to share a few moments of true nurturing and caring sent a wonderfully simple message - love while you can. Yes, there were some corny scenes, and some raw comedy but I truly loved this movie - I cried at the end - and I will watch it again and own it soon. And readers, I repeat, if you know an older baby boomer woman looking for a fantasy cinema fling - this is definitely a Baby Boomer Romeo and Juliet flick with a unique love story based on a true story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CLASSY MIRREN Aug. 6 2012
By The Movie Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Joe Pesci is typed cast as a New Jersey thug. He plays the co-owner of the Love Ranch (Mustang Ranch) Charlie Bontempo (Joe Conforte in real life). His co-owner wife, Grace (Sally Burgess) is played by the classy Helen Mirren. They had owned illegal brothels, which appears to have been easier than the headaches associated with legal ones and having to deal with "25 psychotics," as Grace puts it.

The movie captured the bikini clad girls of the era. There is brief nudity and sexual situations as one would expect from such a movie, but it is minimal considering the topic. Of course Pesci drops the f-bomb like only Pesci can. The movie failed to capture the frequent celebrity appearances at the ranch. Rather it focuses on the year 1976. Grace finds out she has cancer and maybe six months to live. She tries to tell Charlie, who is too busy with the talent. Charlie gets an idea for Argentinian boxer Bruza (Oscar Bonavena) to train at the ranch to attract clients. While at the ranch Bruza and Grace have an affair. The movie is based on a true story and did a fair job in following it. The closing dialogue of the movie implies that the ranch's tax problems came shortly after the shooting of Bruza in 1976. That is not true. It wasn't until 1990 that the IRS took over the Ranch and Joe Conforte fled to Brazil. The Mustang II ranch shown at the end of the movie was erected in 1982.
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