The film is a day in the life of a young artist, Jean Michel Basquiat, who needs to raise money to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. He wanders the downtown streets ... See full summary »
The film is a day in the life of a young artist, Jean Michel Basquiat, who needs to raise money to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. He wanders the downtown streets carrying a painting he hopes to sell, encountering friends, whose lives (and performances) we peek into. He finally manages to sell his painting to a wealthy female admirer, but he's paid by check. Low on cash, he spends the evening wandering from club to club, looking for a beautiful girl he had met earlier, so he'll have a place to spend the night. Downtown 81 not only captures one of the most interesting and lively artists of the twentieth century as he is poised for fame, but it is a slice of life from one of the most exciting periods in American culture, with the emergence of new wave music, new painting, hip hop and graffiti. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Unfortunately, the original soundtrack became destroyed over the years. The producers were able to get most of the original cast to re-dub their dialogue. But Jean Michel Basquiat died in 1988. So Saul Williams was hired to dub Basquiat's dialogue. See more »
Jean Michel Basquiat:
I'm an artist. When you tell people that they usually say, 'what's your medium?' I usually say, 'extra large.'
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Has some really good music and performances; Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, DNA, Tuxedo Moon, the Plastics, Melle Mel, Vincent Gallo, Lydia Lunch...etc, but aside from this there isn't much more to it. The dialog, especially the narration(by Saul Williams), is actually pretty good, but the performances are all pretty bland or outright bad, no matter how many hipsters are thrown in; Debbie Harry and Jean Micheal Basquit(the latter being the leading role) both still don't have enough cultural cred to keep this film from being a novelty item. It goes for the a Jack Kerouac style roving spontaneity, but doesn't have the insight to keep it moving along, which is where the band performances come in. I guess its pretty balanced in that regard between great music and bad acting, and I did enjoy it, but I just expected more. Though it does have a fairy tale ending.
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