on 19 October 2003
an utter gem. this is touching, funny and sad with buscemi on top form (unsuprisingly) as tommy, a 30something drifter/dreamer/slacker/drinker/out of work machanic. chloe sevigny is perfect as the knowingly sexy teenage love interest. it really hits on issues about living, losing and loving in a small town and is suffused with a dark sense of humour ensuring that whilst sad, its acute observations render if from being a mawkish and trite affair. then again, we'd expect nothing less from buscemi. a perfect summer time blues picture.
on 1 April 2008
Stay well clear of this release. It is one of the poorest DVD authoring jobs I've seen. Firstly, the stated widescreen aspect ratio of 1.77:1 is wrong--the film is in standard 4:3.
Secondly, and most importantly, the sound has a quite audible background hiss throughout the entire feature; which gets very prominent during quiet passages. It seems the people responsible for "authoring" this disc boosted the volume to compensate for an inferior audio track (or perhaps wanted to ensure deaf people heard every line spoken)
Either way, you are better off with the region 1 release (although that is far from great also)
(I probably needn't say there is nothing in the way of extras or alternate audio tracks either. Not even a booklet with a chapter list)
on 22 April 2003
This is one of my favourite Steve Buscemi films, I am a huge fan of his and it's not often he is even in a lead role so this is already special purely for that reason! It also stars a relatively young Chloe Sevigny who is her usual kitsch, slightly sinister self. The plot is quite disturbing at times and if you're a fan of mainstream Hollwood blockbusters this may not be your cup of tea but if you're a fan of Steve or Chloe then chances are you'll enjoy of this quirky, creepy, clever movie.
This film, written and directed by and starring Steve Buscemi is perhaps a tale of how his own life may have gone if he had not made it as an actor. The story centres around a bar, the Trees Lounge, in which Tommy (Buscemi) hangs out and gets drunk with the other drunks.
Many of the settings are lifted from Buscemi's life before his acting career took off.
Tommy doesn't have a job, or a girl or a life. He managed to loose them all at the same time. In their place, all that he has is an alcoholic haze. What he really wants more than anything is to get those things back. Ideally, he'd like the old job and girl but instead he finds himself driving an ice-cream van and hooks up with the young neice of his ex.
This does not sound like a brilliant basis for a film and this movie's impact depends almost exclusively on how the viewer relates to the main character Tommy. If he is a shallow drunk with no merits beyond a quick intelligence then the film will not appeal. On the other hand, if you find yourself wishing him well and hoping that, somehow, he can get himself back together again then you will enjoy this film.
What makes this movie for me is that Buscemi is seen in a role where you feel he really is playing a character that he is close to. In Reservoir Dogs and Escape from LA, he was acting. Here and in Fargo, he just was.
on 21 November 2002
This for me is the greatest role for Buscemi, since he plays the alcoholic character very well. I often think that Buscemi looks on the brink of death anyway, with his pale complexion and thin features, and this role suits him nicely.
Many people condemn films for not having extravegent plots, with buildings blowing up, and cars chasing each other, but I think that the more refined movie watcher will appreciate this one.
The characters are very interesting and you get sucked in to the dark and dismal dead end world of being a drunk, with Buscemi as your tour guide.
on 13 March 2000
This film is actor Steve Buscemi's directing debut, and it's a sweet, low-key affair. It's like a modern-day version of 'Lolita', though Buscemi's character Tommy doesn't actually get into any serious trouble with Debbie (Chloë Sevigny, beginning her rise to fame following her part in 'kids'). SB is in loser mode in this film (his other typical role is The Villain, so he's similar to Kevin Spacey in this respect!) and he's forced to take on a job as a not-very-good ice-cream van driver. There isn't a huge amount I can say about the plot - since nothing much happens - but the great thing about 'Trees Lounge' is that it brings you into Tommy's group of seedy drinking buddies (including Samuel L Jackson in an unexpected cameo!), making it a very atmospheric piece of indie cinema.
This unassuming, semi-autobiographical 1996 film-directing debut by Steve Buscemi is one of those well-written (by Buscemi), well-acted (by an ensemble cast, a number of whom were destined to go on to 'greater' things) and atmospheric little 'indie' films that only come along every so often. As well as providing a witty and perceptive take on the lives of 'ordinary people' (living in Long Island, New York State) Trees Lounge also provides quite a stark take on the perils of alcoholism that the likes of Charles Bukowski or Jack London would likely be proud of.
Buscemi has, of course, been one of the most talented mainstays of 'quirky indie' US cinema for the best part of 30 years, whether it be his outstanding acting turns in the likes of Fargo, Reservoir Dogs and Miller's Crossing or his directing credits on TV's The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie. Indeed, here, some of the ensemble playing, particularly during the extended family gathering at which Tony Basilio, the 'small-time criminal' father of Buscemi's alcoholic waster Tommy, played superbly by Victor Arnold, holds court (plus the presence of Michael Imperioli, John Ventimiglia and Elizabeth Bracco in Buscemi's outstanding cast) is reminiscent of David Chase's tales of New Jersey gangsters. Buscemi is (again) outstanding here as the well-meaning, philosophical joker (and loser), a near-constant inhabitant of the Trees Lounge bar (along with the likes of 'perennial starer', Bronson Dudley's ancient Bill - who, for me, looks like something straight out of Lynch's Blue Velvet).
Essentially a series of vignettes, Trees Lounge's narrative (such as it is) focuses on Tommy's continuing love for his ex-,Bracco's Theresa (for me, along with Buscemi's, the key performance here), now pregnant and hooked up with Anthony LaPaglia's garage mechanic Rob, plus Tommy's unwise budding romance with (impressive in this early role) Chloe Sevigny's 17-year old, Debbie, daughter of Daniel Baldwin's 'meat-head' father, Jerry. And although there is nothing here that is (in any sense) spectacular, or even particularly original, Buscemi has written an endearing, emotionally charged tale, and at the same time coaxed a whole series of well-observed, nuanced performances from his cast (undoubtedly a result of Buscemi's acute understanding of the acting craft). On the acting front, mention should also be made of Buscemi's regular collaborator, Mark Boone Junior, excellent as 'fellow dysfunctional drinker', Mike and to Samuel L Jackson and Lawrence Gillard Jr. (The Wire's D'Angelo Barksdale, in an early role) as Mike's 'mates', respectively, the pessimistic Wendell and James.
A final plaudit for the film's soundtrack, in the main a mix of atmospheric lounge jazz (courtesy of the likes of The Ink Spots, The Castells, Bill Deal & The Rhondels and The Platters) and 1970s (nostalgic) rock (from the likes of Free, Argent and Bachman Turner Overdrive). Buscemi's film is also indelibly lodged in my memory (from first seeing it at the cinema) courtesy of Hayden's superb 'title tune' (sounding like a cross between Nirvana and Pavement) - which along with David Byrne's The Great Western Road, played across the closing titles of David Mackenzie's film Young Adam - ranks as one of the most outstanding (and surprising) film themes I have heard.