90 Movies in 90 Days: Downtown ’81 (2000)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Downtown ’81
Release Date: October 5, 2000
Director: Edo Bertoglio
Production Company: New York Beat Films

Part film noir, part beat poetry, and part music video, Downtown ’81 explores a day in the life of Manhattan’s art and club scene through the eyes of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.  After being evicted, Jean meets various real life musicians, artists, and graffiti writers in his perambulations around the Lower East Side.

He does not meet any movie actors and the amateurish performances stand out.  But this movie is more about vibes than anything else and towards the end live performances by various artists such as Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, The Plastics, and Walter Steding & The Dragon People.  Notable people in the cast include David McDermott, Lee Quiñones,  Fab Five Freddy, and a wonderful bit with Debbie Harry.  It’s a fun glimpse at the very weird New York City scene of the early 80s.

Rating: ***