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      Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy

      Released Jun 23, 2023 1 hr. 41 min. Documentary TRAILER for Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy: Trailer 1 List
      91% 33 Reviews Tomatometer 76% Fewer than 50 Ratings Audience Score A half century after its release, Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most original and groundbreaking movies of the modern era. With beguiling performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman as two loners who join forces out of desperation, blacklist survivor Waldo Salt's brilliant screenplay, and John Schlesinger's fearless direction, the 1969 film became the only X- rated film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its vivid and compassionate depiction of a more realistic, unsanitized New York City and its inhabitants paved the way for a generation’s worth of gritty movies with complex characters and adult themes. But this is not a documentary about the making of Midnight Cowboy: it is about the deeply gifted and flawed people behind a dark and difficult masterpiece; New York City in a troubled time of cultural ferment; and the era that made a movie and the movie that made an era. Featuring extensive archival material and compelling new interviews, director Nancy Buirski illuminates how one film captured the essence of a time and a place, reflecting a rapidly changing society with striking clarity. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Sep 05 Buy Now

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      Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy

      What to Know

      Critics Consensus

      As engrossing as it is ambitious, Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy contextualizes a landmark film within the pivotal moment of its creation.

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      Audience Reviews

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      Cee C Engaging doc that explores in depth. It's not redundant or dumbed down, it takes on interesting concepts - like the creative struggle of filmmakers, in an intimate way. A must see for lovers of cinema and NYC history!!! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 10/20/23 Full Review Nat S Really fascinating and entertaining doc. Loved it. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/27/23 Full Review dave d Well that Jon Voight interview went well. Unfocused and meandering into social issues and too all over the map. Good in segments, but too hard to contain. Final Score: 4.2/10 Rated 2 out of 5 stars 09/22/23 Full Review Marilyn H This felt like a draft of a film, not a film. I loved Midnight Cowboy and have seen it many times. I know Buirski's desire was to honor the film and to explore that moment in time. I wish she had done that, but she did neither. The film is confusing and redundant, it kept covering topics, moving on, and then, for some unknown reason, circling back to them. There were about 6 different endings. I read somewhere that she walked into the edit room without a script or an outline and that her films came out of conversations she had with her editor. That may have been a good method for her other films, but not for this one. It is simply unkempt. Apparently neither her editor nor her producers seemed to be able to tell her that the Empress had no clothes. I had great hopes for this film, Buirski's final one as she recently passed away. If you want to see something that she did really well, see "The Loving Story." Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars 09/15/23 Full Review Brent M It's unfortunate when a filmmaker sets out to pay tribute to a cinematic classic yet somehow manages to mangle the effort, but, regrettably, that's precisely what happened in writer-director Nancy Buirski's attempted homage to John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), the only X-rated release ever to win the Oscar for best picture. The scattered narrative of this poorly constructed documentary seems to focus on virtually everything except the film itself, drawing upon an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to explaining what influenced this screen epic rather than what went into the making of the picture itself. While it's certainly enlightening and helpful to provide viewers with sufficient back story about the timing of a movie's production and the filmmaking influences that helped shape it, these practices nevertheless become a burdensome distraction when they dominate the documentary's content and overshadow what made its supposed subject matter so noteworthy in the first place. As a consequence, the flow of this offering is about as unwieldy as its title, jumping around from ancillary subject to ancillary subject and often providing only the most tangential connections to its alleged core material. Granted, there are a few moderately interesting anecdotes here and there, as well as a few insightful references to how "Midnight Cowboy" went on to influence a number of subsequent film productions. But even the contemporary and archive interviews with director John Schlesinger, screenwriters Waldo Salt and James Leo Herlihy, and cast members Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Brenda Vaccaro, Jennifer Salt and Bob Balaban shed little meaningful new light on this highly regarded offering. Perhaps the biggest problem here is that the underlying story of this documentary turned out to be inherently thinner than the filmmaker thought it was and that she chose to pad the material to artificially extend its length (although coming up with an entirely different narrative or editing the current one down to a film short would have made better options). It's too bad this one fared as it has, as it's a release that I truly looked forward to screening. It's indeed one thing to establish a story in the context of its times and influences and to do it correctly (as was very much the case, for example, with the David Bowie documentary "Moonage Daydream" (2022)), but this offering, sadly, is a prime example of how not to do it. "Midnight Cowboy" certainly deserved better than this, and one's time would definitely be better spent watching the original than this failed attempt at honoring it. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 09/08/23 Full Review Jeronimo J QUIERO QUE BAJE EL 100% LISTO XD Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 07/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

      View All (33) Critics Reviews
      Mark Jenkins Washington Post Obliquely but evocatively, Desperate Souls ponders the many roles of the cowboy: gay icon, cinematic hero and symbol of American manifest destiny from the Rockies to the Mekong. Rated: 3/4 Sep 6, 2023 Full Review Odie Henderson Boston Globe “Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy” is a documentary as unwieldy as its title. It’s undermined by the sheer scope of its examination, which includes details that are hammered into its study so oddly that they strain credibility. Rated: 2.5/4 Jul 8, 2023 Full Review Claudia Puig FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles) I liked how it captures that sense of iconic change going on at the time. Jun 28, 2023 Full Review Dan Bayer Next Best Picture Simultaneously too much and not enough, Buirski’s film manages to situate its subject perfectly in a historical context. However, it leaves many ideas either half-formed or glanced over in its effort to cover so much in such a tight timeframe. Rated: 7/10 Jan 29, 2024 Full Review Stephen Silver The SS Ben Hecht It's great, featuring an immersive look at the film and its themes, of both the countercultural and queer varieties. Rated: 4/5 Jan 1, 2024 Full Review Mark R. Leeper Mark Leeper's Reviews DESPERATE SOULS, DARK CITY AND THE LEGEND OF MIDNIGHT COWBOY is a history of the 1950s and 1960s by clips from films and other media. There is some discussion of the effect MIDNIGHT COWBOY had, but it primarily looks at how the film came to be at all. Rated: 8/10 Dec 24, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis A half century after its release, Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most original and groundbreaking movies of the modern era. With beguiling performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman as two loners who join forces out of desperation, blacklist survivor Waldo Salt's brilliant screenplay, and John Schlesinger's fearless direction, the 1969 film became the only X- rated film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its vivid and compassionate depiction of a more realistic, unsanitized New York City and its inhabitants paved the way for a generation’s worth of gritty movies with complex characters and adult themes. But this is not a documentary about the making of Midnight Cowboy: it is about the deeply gifted and flawed people behind a dark and difficult masterpiece; New York City in a troubled time of cultural ferment; and the era that made a movie and the movie that made an era. Featuring extensive archival material and compelling new interviews, director Nancy Buirski illuminates how one film captured the essence of a time and a place, reflecting a rapidly changing society with striking clarity.
      Director
      Nancy Buirski
      Executive Producer
      James Costa, Geralyn White Dreyfous, J.C. Mills, Glen Salzman, Regina K. Scully, Nathalie Seaver, Mark Trustin, Jamie Wolf
      Screenwriter
      Nancy Buirski, Nancy Buirski
      Distributor
      Zeitgeist Films / Kino Lorber
      Production Co
      Augusta Films, Foothill Productions, Cineflix Productions
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Jun 23, 2023, Limited
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $54.9K
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