Trees Lounge (1996)
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Actor Steve Buscemi headlines and makes his directorial debut in this gritty tale of a 31-year-old alcoholic loser set in a Long Island blue-collar village. The loser is Tommy, a chronic underachiever who lives above (and spends most of his time drinking in) the Trees Lounge, a local watering hole where nothing ever really changes. Like the bar, Tommy's life is in neutral. He was a mechanic but lost his job after he was caught with $1,500 out of the garage till. He claims that he was just taking out a 'loan,' but his boss, and also his best friend, Rob disbelieves him. Rob may not be such a good friend, as he has been carrying on with Tommy's pregnant girlfriend. When inside the drunkard's haven, Tommy spends his time getting blind drunk and picking up girls. Occasionally he becomes rowdy and gets kicked out. Much of the film deals with the people Tommy meets in the Lounge including 17-year-old siren Debbie, with whom Tommy foolishly has a drunken one night fling. When her father finds out, spark fly. Later, Tommy's life takes a sharp turn, forcing him to face himself and his irresponsible behavior. … More
as Uncle Al
as Tony Basilio
as Little Boy
as Josie Basilio
as Marie's Mother
as Little Girl
as Crystal's son
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Critic Reviews for Trees Lounge
An impressive feature debut from indie icon Buscemi, a serio-comedy and character study of a barfly (played by Buscemi) and the entourage that frequents the same working bar day after day; John Cassavetes would have been proud of this film.
Not nearly as interesting as Buscemi's body of work in front of the camera.
Better-than-solid directorial debut from Buscemi.
Buscemi does a fine job directing this sad, realistic, sometimes humorous look into the life of an alcoholic.
Audience Reviews for Trees Lounge
A melancholic yet humorous look into alcoholism that ought to be remembered for its great dialogue that never sounds expository, but the plot also feels a bit dispersed around its many situations, which somehow curiously reflects how Buscemi's character lives his unfocused life.More
An independent powerhouse from the man who most exemplifies character actor, Steve Buscemi made a film that is patiently paced, full of pure character driven scenes and examples of tragedy meeting the human spirit. The story centers on the human wretch known as Tommy, a barfly who is always fighting with himself, other bar patrons, and the people of his past who detest him for his awkward clinginess yet abandoned him in the first place. Tommy has always had his faults, but with the breakup of a long term relationship and her getting pregnant by a former friend, Tommy turns into a delinquent alcoholic with a penchant for dropping in on people who don't want his greasy company. There are many supporting characters either connected to the skeevy man himself or are on the fringes of his universe, controlled by his disgusting actions. In the course of the film Tommy eliminates anyone who could have gotten close to him or helped him by making the worst of choices, never apologizing for his past actions or the present, and repeatedly mocking the people who are trying to help him change. The reason the film is heart warming and yet deplorably altruistic is that Tommy's actions are always with the explicit need to not be found out. He tries to deflect all blame from himself by lying and dodging the truth with the utmost of ease. Other characters include a misguided and philandering husband who only wants to reconcile with his wife, a bevy of other bar oriented folk who chain smoke and play forties' standards on the juke box, a tired waitress, and the family of his ex-girlfriend, including a teenage daughter (Sevigny) who is confused and naive about his motivations. The film flows well, and bridges the gap between drama and light comedy by ingratiating us to the characters and entertaining with the ensemble effect of a movie of this kind. If anyone believed Buscemi was just a pretty face that is easily reconciled with his sturdy direction and immaculate writing, all of which play into this semi-quirky but highly realistic film about being lost and how unsure one can be in those circumstances. The meaning is that being an awful person doesn't always mean someone should have to be shunned since that leads to more pain and resentment from everyone else. It's a strikingly brilliant film and one that showcases the real talent of Steve Buscemi.More
Marie: You don't go to work every day. You go to a bar every day.†
"A story about one man's search... for who knows what"
Trees Lounge is the name of the bar where Tommy can be found just about 24/7. He's an alcoholic, and this movie is one of the best representations of alcoholism I have seen. It's not overblown like in most movies, where the alcoholic is beating the shit out of people, throwing up everywhere, and crying every twenty minutes. Every alcoholic I've ever met is much more like this character. They are constantly making excuses about why they drink, and if something in their life could turn around they would easily be able to stop. Most of the time that something never happens though, and they are in an endless cycle of booze and excuses.
Tommy has many reasons to drink. He's an unemployed mechanic, who was fired from his last job for stealing money. So he isn't exactly getting rave recommendations from that boss, when he applies at other places. To compound that, his boss that fired him also stole his girlfriend of eight years, and she's pregnant. If he could find a job, he could stop drinking. If he could get her back, he could stop drinking. But most of the time, instead of changing his life, he just continues drinking.†
The film is very low key which is one of the reasons I really enjoyed it. I love that it doesn't go over the top to make a point. It is slow and patient work from Steve Buscemi, who stars in, wrote, and directs this character driven film. This is the first Buscemi directed film I have seen, and I have to say, I am extremely impressed by it. I was already a big fan of Buscemi's, what with his work in such movies as, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. Trees Lounge just gave me a whole new respect for the guy.†
Trees Lounge is intelligent filmmaking. It may not be exciting, but for what it wanted to be it was damn near flawless. You really have to be into these type of slow moving movies, where nothing much happens, in order to enjoy this. It has a true indie feel, which makes it much more enjoyable. It's just a good all around movie.
I've waited 16 years to see this, I'm glad to report that it is as good as I'd hoped. I've always been a big fan of Steve Buscemi, who isn't?, and I enjoyed Animal Factory and Interview too. If you're not a fan of his however, you need not trouble yourself. I found the pace and irrelevance of the story to be quite refreshing, until I remembered that the last great golden age of cinema was USA 93-96 and so I became nostalgic. Then I laughed at ChloŽ Sevigny's haircut. I loved the 90's.More
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