In a clear case of cross-country exhaustion, I had to play yet another round of musical movie chairs on Day 68. After flying home to L.A. from the weeklong East Coast adventure and then heading straight into work, I could not find the inner moviewatching fortitude afterwards to haul all the way from Santa Monica to Hollywood and back to see The Kids Are All Right at the closest theater (the Arclight) that was playing it. Instead, I opted for Love Ranch at a theater less than three miles away (the Landmark).
Even while watching the magnificent Helen Mirren fully inhabit her role as the guiding force behind a Nevada brothel called the Love Ranch, I couldn't help but fidget and long for a night's rest before the cycle begins all over again. If one hundred days of moviewatching can be compared to a marathon, then we're close to mile 18 and about to hit the "wall."
Here's what you should know about Love Ranch. It's the first directorial effort from Taylor Hackford in six years, and his first film since the Oscar-winning Ray. It stars Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci as the owners of a legalized brothel, whose "employees" are played by familiar faces such as Gina Gershon, Bai Ling and Scout Taylor-Compton. It's also based on the lives of Joe and Sally Conforte, who opened the first legal brothel - the infamous Mustang Ranch - in Storey County, Nevada. To separate fictional vs. factual elements, the movie takes place in Reno and deals with a conflict that arises when an Argentinian boxer - hired by the couple to secure a fight against '70s champ Muhammad Ali - falls head over heels for Mirren's character.
You might not have heard about this indie, despite its Oscar-winning director and star (a real-life married couple). That's because, beyond the sordid set-up and the film's uneven tone [is it a comedy? drama? commentary?], the movie never develops into much of anything. That might have been why I was itching for rest, too...
As she always does, Mirren, whose talents are fairly unparalled, escapes the proceedings unscathed. She's believable as the smart and saavy laday madame, and as the fiery queen who captivates the Latino boxing stud (a lunky Sergio Peris-Mencheta). Pesci plays his usual crazy little man, which makes you wonder - Mirren's character is married to this chump?
If you're a Helen Mirren completist, by all means, seek out Love Ranch. Otherwise, see Cyrus if you haven't already.