Downtown 81

Gives us a glimpse of the city as it was, suggesting that there was something revolutionary, even inspiring, about those days of not-so yore.

NO LONGER PLAYING

Downtown 81

In 1981, writer and Warhol associate Glenn O’Brien, Swiss photographer Edo Bertoglio, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, a graffiti innovator and noise music artist who’d just begun to exhibit his paintings, hit the streets of lower Manhattan to make a movie about the bombed out bohemia that they knew, with a script by O’Brien, Bertoglio directing, and Basquiat, a naturally compelling presence, starring. Left incomplete due to money problems and assembled for release in 2000, Downtown 81, which follows Basquiat trying to move a painting while hustling for a place to sleep, became a window on a lost world of life on the margins and crazy creative ferment. Featuring John Lurie, Fab Five Freddy, and Debbie Harry, with musical performances by DNA, James White and the Blacks, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts—and Manhattan in all its mangy glory.
 

Not Rated
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Musical, Art & Artists, African-American Experience, New York City
Runtime
75
Language
English
Director
Edo Bertoglio
Writer(s)
Glenn O'Brien
Cast
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddie, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Tuxedomoon, The Plastics, Debi Mazar, Cookie Mueller, Lee Quinones
FEATURED REVIEW
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Starring a then-unknown Jean-Michel Basquiat, the pic would never have been finished if he hadn't shot to fame immediately after production; his name is certainly what will draw attention to the film as it now begins a national tour (a tour starting at a theater, the Metrograph, located at the heart ...

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