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Downtown 81 (1981)
"New York Beat Movie" (original title)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 652 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 10 user | 22 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

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 »

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Title: Downtown 81 (1981)

Downtown 81 (1981) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ted Bafaloukos ...
Junk Dealer
Tom Baker ...
Go-Go Bar Patron
...
Herself
...
Himself
Roberta Bayley ...
Street Girl
Snooky Bellomo ...
Manic Panic Girl
Tish Bellomo ...
Manic Panic Girl
Bemshi ...
Dancer
Victor Bockris ...
Conversationalist at Mudd Club
Byron Bowie ...
Himself
Joe Bowie ...
Himself - Trombonist, James White & The Blacks
Diane Brill ...
Kid Creole Announcer
Steven Brown ...
Himself
John Browner ...
Go-Go Bar Patron
Clem Burke ...
The Felons band member
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

14 March 2001 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Downtown 81  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,436 (USA) (13 July 2001)

Gross:

$100,293 (USA) (26 October 2001)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1981, financial problems prevented the post-production and release of the film. Subsequently, parts of the film became lost over the years. After much searching, the missing materials were located in 1998. Finally, post production began in 1999 and the film was released in 2000. See more »

Quotes

Jean Michel Basquiat: I'm an artist. When you tell people that they usually say, 'what's your medium?' I usually say, 'extra large.'
See more »

Connections

Followed by Face Addict (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Copy
Written by Hajime Tachibana and Toshio Nakanishi
Performed by The Plastics
Song of Windswept Pacific
Used under permission from Victor Entertainment, Inc. Japan, Fujipacific Music, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A portrait of a lost time
1 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Your assessment of this movie depends completely on what you are looking for. If you come to this film without any knowledge of who and what and why, it will be disappointing. But if you approach the film not as a movie in the regular sense but as an historical document of a moment in time, then it becomes an entirely different experience. In this sense it helps to understand what is being documented and who these people are. Some working knowledge of the late 70s NYC downtown scene, the Mudd Club, T.V. Party, the lower east side art boom, the post-punk music world, etc. gives you a much greater sense of appreciation. Understood historically and not just as another film, whether the movie works as a traditional film, whether the plot is interesting or the characters well developed (a tricky proposition seeing that the original dialogue was lost and had to be re-dubbed) doesn't matter. What you are seeing is the last truly avant garde art and music scene in the US before AIDS, money, MTV and the rest destroyed it. And it focuses on someone right at the center of the storm, Basquiat before his rise to international fame. (Another commentator questioned Basquiat's cultural credibility, but I'm not sure what culture he is talking about). Beyond that the musical performances are exceptional and rare and are worth the price of admission by themselves. This is a portrait of something lost and timeless. It is a fascinating historical document and should be appreciated as such.


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