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.
Sujit R. Varma
14 March 2001 (France)
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Also Known As:
Glenn O'Brien's New York Beat Movie
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Opening Weekend USA: $11,436,
15 July 2001, Limited Release
Gross USA: $100,293, 28 October 2001
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Aspect Ratio: 1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?
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.'
In the 2001 version, Downtown 81, Saul Williams does the voiceover for Jean-Michel Basquiat's character. See more
Featured in Basquiat
Written and Performed by Chris Stein See more