7.1/10
1,158
10 user 23 critic

Downtown 81 (2000)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 14 March 2001 (France)
After being released from the hospital, the artist Jean Michel Basquiat wanders around Manhattan trying to sell art to make money and find a place to stay.

Director:

Edo Bertoglio

Writer:

Glenn O'Brien
3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Michel Basquiat ... Jean
Richard Weigand Richard Weigand ... Doctor
Cyndy Schneidau Cyndy Schneidau ... Nurse
Millie Schneidau Millie Schneidau ... Nurse
Steven Z. Soszynski Steven Z. Soszynski ... Grocer
Anna Schroeder Anna Schroeder ... Béatrice
Giorgio Gomelsky Giorgio Gomelsky ... Landlord (as Giorgio Giomelsky)
Ted Bafaloukos Ted Bafaloukos ... Junk Dealer
Bobby Grossman Bobby Grossman ... East Village Junkie
Mickey Clean Mickey Clean ... Pot Dealer
Roberta Bayley Roberta Bayley ... Street Girl
Dave Street Dave Street ... Musician
Tish Bellomo Tish Bellomo ... Manic Panic Girl
Snooky Bellomo Snooky Bellomo ... Manic Panic Girl
Kool Kyle Kool Kyle ... Rapper
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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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Since 1981, Glenn O'Brien had possession of all of the live musical performance recordings. Unfortunately, the original voice soundtrack was lost in Italy by the film storage vault. 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 »

Alternate Versions

In the 2001 version, Downtown 81, Saul Williams does the voiceover for Jean-Michel Basquiat's character. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Betty: Zen and the Art of Skateboarding (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

Chitlins Con Carne
Written and Performed by Kenny Burrell
Published by Elliot Music Co. Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Blue Note Records, a division of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

User Reviews

 
Bad narrative film...Great Performance Film
13 December 2007 | by loganx-2See all my reviews

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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 March 2001 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Downtown 81 See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,436, 15 July 2001

Gross USA:

$231,445

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$231,445
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

New York Beat Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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