“Downtown 81″ was done for years, but not released until the 00s. The film is an interesting time capsule that highlights NYC at its peak in musical and artistic influence. That being said, it’s a film very much of its time. While it seems to have been three narratives and the audio is out of sync, the end result feels like a freestyle project. While that might entertain the artists out there, it can be frustrating for casual viewers.
Art has always been a tricky bitch goddess. The art scene of major metros always builds a sense of contempt and misdirected aggression at forces that may or may not be there. There is no Man keeping anyone down, but it is a portrait of the odyssey of lax wishing that takes you through the modern experience. Every step is a journey and some of those journeys don’t lead anywhere that important. The narration in the film is as pointless as the theatrical cut of “Blade Runner”. That being said, the project lulls and then speeds up like it’s on crank. It’s fun for a reel, but not entertaining enough for a narrative. My predilections aside, I’ve got to say that I enjoy it’s jazzy nature.
The use of Basquiat seems to be a way to put a living time stamp on the piece. He plays himself, as he travels about his day. But, this is a movie about experience and who better to use than the quintessential New York artist of that time? Debbie Harry and Kid Creole show up and it’s just another bit of icing on the cake. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves and makes you want to come back in time to join them.
The deluxe DVD release comes with over two hours of extra. The A/V Quality is stunning with a cleaned up transfer and a smooth Dolby mix. You get a commentary, photo gallery, interview and rare extras from the original production. Plus, you get a booklet. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
Release Date: 6/30/15