New York Beat Movie (Downtown 81)
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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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A fascinating if fragmented, dreamlike look at the downtown art-music-fashion scene of a yeasty, creative era."
‑ Jane Sumner, Dallas Morning News
"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."
‑ John Petrakis, Chicago Tribune
"Although Basquiat is effortlessly charismatic, he isn't given much to do; the film leans heavily on narration, much of which crosses the line separating poetic from pretentious."
‑ Mike D'Angelo, The Dissolve
"It's like being present for the opening of a time capsule."
‑ Dave White, IFilm
"A paean to funky neighborhoods before gentrification and gritty, neon-flecked streets before SUVs."
‑ Doris Toumarkine, Film Journal International
"A crudely poetic inventory of the people and places about to rock pop culture."
‑ Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"It captures the youthful excitement of a burgeoning creative movement."
‑ Kevin Maynard, Mr. Showbiz
"Invaluable because it catches the sights, sounds and moods of a city that are of a bygone era."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Director Edo Bertoglio and writer-producer Glenn O'Brien gave [Basquiat] little to do but walk around and look pretty."
‑ David Ehrenstein, New Times
"A film of considerable pleasure, not least the archival footage and evocation of a city and individuals fair brimming with life."
‑ ,
"Performances by DNA and the Plastics alone are worth the price of admission."
‑ Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle
"It's as a documentary that Downtown 81 is most successful."
‑ Dave Kehr, New York Times
"It's not a great film, but rather disjointed as nothing really makes sense. But considering this is the only glimpse one would ever see of Basquiat before he was discovered by Andy Warhol, this film is somewhat of a masterpiece."
‑ Wilson Morales,
"a sweet, harmless vision that never quite overcomes the lack of story..."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"As a piece of cinematic art, this meandering, shambolic film isn't much to speak of, but as a time capsule, it's priceless."
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
More reviews for New York Beat Movie (Downtown 81) on Rotten Tomatoes