Spend a day with Jean-Michael Basquiat

Downtown 81
5th Avenue Cinema
510 S.W. Hall
7 and 9:15 p.m.
$2 PSU students
$3 students and seniors
$4 general

@body:Jean-Michael Basquiat has been evicted! Now he must spend the entire day wandering from place to place trying to get enough money to pay his rent. He does so with little urgency, which suggests that it really doesn’t matter to him if he has a place to live or not. It may be that being a new, young star in the New York art world helps him to take it all in stride. It could also indicate that he is too high to care. The urban graffiti artist says little in this film; many of the scenes are underscored with an infusion of jazz music.

“Downtown 81,” playing this weekend at PSU’s 5th Avenue Cinema, was shot in 1981 but was not released until 2000. Possibly the delay occurred because the film is a touch boring and the “story” is a little hard to follow. The dialog itself has a “Godzilla” feel because it doesn’t match with the mouth movements. A few of the scenes are in French but it doesn’t really matter because the English is unintelligible for the most part anyway.

The film gives some insight into Basquiat’s creative process with many moments of artistic flair. The creative process is organic and happens spontaneously. Many of these inspired instances involve him writing a single word or phrase on the side of a building or creating a mural of poetic prose in spray paint.

Along the way he must contend with several catastrophes including losing his band equipment. Those who know a great deal about the New York art scene in the early 1980s will appreciate the many cameo appearances by notables of that time. Those of us who don’t recognize anyone but Andy Warhol may have to dig a little deeper to enjoy this film.

“Mishima: a life in four chapters” will also be showing at the 5th Avenue Cinema. This film is a fictionalized account of one of Japan’s most celebrated authors Yukio Mishima and is directed by Paul Shrader (American Gigolo).

“Downtown 81” and “Mishima” will be showing this Friday and Saturday Feb. 1 and 2.