Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of the Midnight Cowboy (2022)
English | Nancy Buirski
Premiering at the 2022 Venice Film festival, this is not a documentary about the making of Midnight Cowboy. It is about a dark and difficult masterpiece and the deeply gifted and flawed people who made it. It is about New York in a troubled era of cultural ferment and social change.
A half century after its release, Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most original and groundbreaking movies of the modern era. Set in a New York besieged by economic collapse, social unrest, and cultural ferment, the movie tells the story of two homeless loners who join forces out of desperation and struggle to survive. It features superb performances by Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, spirited direction by John Schlesinger, a brilliant screenplay by blacklist survivor Waldo Salt, and a memorable musical soundtrack. The result was the only X-rated film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture and John Schlesinger’s win as Best Director over George Roy Hill, Arthur Penn, Sydney Pollack and Costa-Gavras! It paved the way for a generation’s worth of gritty, New York-based movies with adult themes and complex characters.
By 2020, things start to take a dire turn. In May, Storm Lake becomes the COVID-19 epicenter in the state. The public health catastrophe poses an existential crisis for The Times as ad revenue and newspaper sales suffer a serious blow. And yet, the need for The Times is more vital than ever as credible journalism is under siege and democracy hangs by a thread. Despite the setbacks, the financial losses, and even quarantine, the Cullens continue to deliver the news. There’s simply too much at stake not to.