MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 3,685 this week

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

7.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 678 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 »

Director:

Writer:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 56 titles
created 06 Aug 2011
 
a list of 83 titles
created 27 Oct 2012
 
a list of 24 titles
created 21 Mar 2013
 
a list of 101 titles
created 11 May 2013
 

Related Items

Search for "Downtown 81" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Downtown 81 (1981)

Downtown 81 (1981) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Downtown 81.
1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A portrait of New York artist Keith Haring.

Director: Christina Clausen
Stars: Fab 5 Freddy, Jeffrey Deitch, Julia Gruen
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A look at the life, work, and impact of Andy Warhol (1928-1987), pop icon and artist, from his childhood in Pittsburgh to his death after a botched surgery. Warhol coined the word "... See full summary »

Director: Chuck Workman
Stars: Joan Agajanian Quinn, Jean Michel Basquiat, Irving Blum
Union City (1980)
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A man is so obsessed with finding the person responsible for stealing his milk bottles that he ignores his beautiful young wife, who has other ideas on her mind.

Director: Marcus Reichert
Stars: Dennis Lipscomb, Deborah Harry, Sam McMurray
Blank City (2010)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

During the punk rock stage in the late '70s, downtown New York experienced a wave of "Do it yourself" independent filmmaking.

Director: Celine Danhier
Stars: Amos Poe, Ann Magnuson, Becky Johnston
Con Artist (2009)
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A docu-comedy feature film about a once-famous millionaire "business artist" forced to confront his own legendary obnoxious behavior, while trying to find love through fame.

Director: Michael Sladek
Stars: Wilfredo Arias, Molly Barnes, Jean Michel Basquiat
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A journey inside the world of a legend of modern art and an icon of feminism. Onscreen, the nonagenarian Louise Bourgeois is magnetic, mercurial and emotionally raw-an uncompromising artist... See full summary »

Directors: Marion Cajori, Amei Wallach
Stars: Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi, Jean-Louis Bourgeois, Louise Bourgeois
Style Wars (TV Movie 1983)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director: Tony Silver
Stars: Demon, Kase 2, Eric Haze
Bomb It (2007)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Tells the story of contemporary graffiti, tracing its roots in ancient rock paintings through Picasso to its place in hip-hop culture in 1970's New York City.

Director: Jon Reiss
Stars: Cope 2, Kid Acne, Antonio
Basquiat (1996)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "... See full summary »

Director: Julian Schnabel
Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

The cream of New York new wave/punk filmed live at CBGB's when the scene was just beginning. Includes performances by Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the ... See full summary »

Directors: Ivan Král, Amos Poe
Stars: Blondie, David Byrne, Jayne County
Wild Style (1983)
Documentary | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Legendary New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones plays the part of Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between ... See full summary »

Director: Charlie Ahearn
Stars: 'Lee' George Quinones, Lady Pink, Fab 5 Freddy
The Foreigner (1978)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

European secret agent Max Menace arrives in New York City, waiting for his contact to tell him his assignment. He becomes entangled with an assortment of odd characters and situations, but ... See full summary »

Director: Amos Poe
Stars: Eric Mitchell, Anya Phillips, Patti Astor
Edit

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
Edit

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


Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Featured in Basquiat (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Cavern
Written by Hartley, MgGuire, Principato, and Young
Performed by Liquid Liquid
Published by Liquid Liquid Publishing (BMI)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
a funky experiment that has its peaks and valleys, more the former than latter
26 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

New York Beat Movie, or Downtown 81, is one of those unclassifiable oddball movies that just comes out from the underground but makes a little too much sense to be grouped in the classic underground movie definition like Andy Warhol. This is more akin to the Jim Jarmusch film Permanent Vacation where we follow a character- in this case a not-so-thinly-disguised version of Jean-Michel Basquiat- as he walks around the lower east side circa 1980, and gets into some mishaps and mini-adventures, usually with a musical beat. It's not entirely fiction, not entirely documentary, not entirely concert. It's more like a punk-new-wave fever dream with Debby Harry as a guardian angel and some bands that will be obscure except for the buffs of the music era (save for a couple of exceptions).

If there is any story, it's very light. It's like we're getting a view into how Basquiat goes about his day and night, and has to contend with getting kicked out of his apartment, his band equipment being ripped off (by just ONE guy!), and as he tries to track down a woman who he thinks is out of this world who says she'll take care of him for life. Fat chance. It's like a kind of travelogue through the dirt and grime, the beat boxes and graffiti artists, the weird WTF bands like DNA (it's not "good" music, but it is interesting in an avant-garde doing-what-we-like way like lesser Television), and some of the bigger bands like Kid Creole and James and the Blacks. It's a trip, man.

Some of the set-backs to the film are technical, and not entirely the fault of the filmmakers. Considering much of the film was thought lost until it was edited back together in 1999, it does flow well. It's the soundtrack that is very hit or miss. Saul Williams does a decent job conveying the quiet, thoughtful but forceful spirit of Jean-Michel, particularly in the semi-poetic narration, but the other voice-work is spotty and unconvincing. Only the music selections help carry through the flaws, such as that reggae song as Basquiat walks around at night, or when he wanders into a small studio and dances to 'Rapture'. It definitely has moments where you'll bop your head and tap your feet, and some of the art work and "Samo"'s graffiti is captivating.

It's less than great, but maybe that was the idea to start. It's more about getting the time and place, the mood of an artist or a musician out on the fringes and just getting by, than telling a story. That should be fine for the audience it's intended. Others proceed with some caution.


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Downtown 81 vs Basquiat alejandroconvers
Saul Williams? lft_tackle
Song that opens film Cquacks77
Anyone else wonder where the cast are at this moment in time? wiretapyeti
street locations Jimk1287
Soundtrack YoBadAzizi84
Discuss Downtown 81 (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?