Trees Lounge (1996)
User ReviewsReview this title
10 out of 10.
Wonderfully subdued comedy showing that Buscemi Is not only a cult anti hero on screen but that he has much promise as a director. The characters stand out as they can be related to - everyone will recognise the Bill type regular permanently attached to the counter. Mark Boone's wife also as a seriously difficult woman who hasn't a clue what she really wants, stereotypically so. Tommy yes, Is a manchild aimlessly squandering his life away, for sure It Isn't a good role model to aspire to approaching middle age but hey that's his perogative.
This Is Steve's film and he's got charisma by the barrow full to make Tree's Lounge a real treat. That trick with the glasses will work once - provided your not too hammered practising. But It's Uncle Al who gets the best lines - "he loves your mothers", his excuse for his lecherous behaviour on the couch will bail a lot of people out of a lot of trouble.
This film Is very hard to track down, 90% of video shops I went to hadn't even heard of It and It's been on terrestrial Tele twice - once a week late- the reward Is well worth the effort.
The man with the perfect comedic timing. The man who can play ruthless, cruel criminals (Fargo and Reservoir Dogs); nice, loving losers (Trees Lounge, Ghost World); and the man that can even save the worst of Adam Sandler movies from total hell (Mr. Deeds, Big Daddy).
As I said, Buscemi (great last name eh?) wrote, directed and starred in "Trees Lounge", the story of alcoholic Tommy Basilio (Buscemi), the kind of man that defines "loser". His girlfriend left him for his best friend (Anthony LaPaglia), who's no longer his best friend. His uncle (Seymour Cassle) just died, and the only way he can work is by taking over the town ice cream truck. Not only this, but he's constantly finding himself at Trees Lounge, the neighborhood bar, drinking more than he should.
"Trees Lounge" is an ensemble piece of only one. Buscemi's writing is amazing. The words flow so well, making this one of the few films that convinces you the characters are completely real. Every character has their own way, their own style of talking. Whether it's Mike's (Mark Boone Junior) lazy slurred speech or Debbie's (Chloe Sevigny) Gen-X type rebellious talk.
The directing is done quite well too. The whole feel of the film - even the shade of the screen - is a grayish, tragic one. He even uses some film tricks he seemed to have picked up from other directors he's worked with. The unique flashback/video sequence of one of Tommy's relative's parties is reminiscent of Tarantino. The fast paced scene where Tommy is assaulted by Debbie's father (Daniel Baldwin) reminds me of Robert Rodriguez.
And, of course, the acting. Everyone who's seen a few Buscemi films know that he can bring new (or more) life to a comedic, dramatic, ruthless or just plain weird role. In this, he blends them all together. Comedic - when he's trying to convince a cousin that his uncle loved him. Dramatic - when he's sadly telling his former girlfriend he can change. Ruthless - when he takes his former best friend's offer a little too far and buys an expensive gift. Weird - his hilarious impression of Marlon Brando from "On the Waterfront".
And, just as Buscemi blends his acting talents together he blends every aspect of filmmaking in his control to create a heartfelt dramatic comedy in "Trees Lounge", 8.5.
This was Buscemi's first attempt as director and is semi-autobiographical in it's plot. Plot, however is a poor way to describe this film's story. Rather it is an amusing character piece, following Tommy through his life. Tommy is likeable but is also selfish, clueless, aimless and friendless. We like him because he has a good loser-quality to him that brings part sympathy and part empathy. During the film he hurts many through his selfish actions and his life is consistently aimless and pointless. However it still manages to be interesting because of Tommy. Even when I didn't care about him the story had enough good support characters and goings on to keep me interested.
Buscemi as actor is just as good doing a weasely version of himself but managing to keep him just likeable enough to get by. It something about the way that Tommy clearly hurts himself all the way that makes it hard to dislike him. The support cast are all very good. Junior, Kane et al do well as the various barflies while LaPaglia, Bracco, Baldwin, Imperioli, Rogers and Jackson all deliver well on their various roles. Sevingy is very good again in another sexually laced child role but I'm glad she's not been typecast too much since Kids.
Overall this is plot light but is still interesting, amusing and enjoyable. Buscemi directs with a light touch and keeps everything light until the sombre final shot.
Shouldn't have worried. Great flick. Totally engrossing, especially to a *cough* former *cough* barfly like myself. Beautifully understated, funny, very sad, nicely paced and Buscemi very wisely NOT trying to dominate every scene, although he certainly dominates the movie.
Movie appears on first sight plot less but actually it isn't at all: Buscemi's search for a second chance to escape from the morass of his own making is riveting. Everyone involved seems to have had a good time and the beautifully relaxed performances are the reward. Only the two knucklehead goombahs fall below the otherwise uniformly excellent level.
A real treat, and thoroughly watchable-again able. My DVD was in TV format, which sucked, but otherwise the low budget doesn't really intrude.
Nearest movie to it I can think of offhand is KILLING OF A Chinese BOOKIE. Radically different subject matter but similar bittersweet texture.
A slightly, but only slightly, generous 9/10 from me.
Tommy Basilio (Buscemi) is an out-of-work mechanic who lives alone above a bar called Trees Lounge in Long Island, N.Y. He's more than a bit down on his luck; not only did he lose his job, but his pregnant girlfriend of eight years, Theresa (Elizabeth Bracco) recently dumped him for his former boss, Rob (Anthony LaPaglia). He wants to pick himself up and get his life back together, but he doesn't seem to know where to start, and the garages to which he's applied for work aren't exactly knocking his door down to hire him. So he gravitates to the Trees, where he can at least interact with others who seem to be in situations not entirely unlike his own, though at different stages and for different reasons. But they all have one thing in common-- they're people just trying to get through the day; they're trying to get through life. If they can only figure it all out.
With this film, Buscemi proves that he is more than just a talented actor, but rather a true artist in every sense of the word, with his chosen medium being film. He has an eye for detail which complements his insights into human nature and enables him to effectively translate his material to the screen. His characters are finely drawn and complex, and with each and every one he manages to successfully avoid the stereotypes to which a setting like this could easily lend itself (and no doubt would, in lesser hands). Even with the minor characters, he succinctly gives you enough of who they are that it allows you to see beneath the surface and know what makes them tick. And he does it imaginatively-- by filling a room with photographs or items that reflect who a certain person is, for example, or simply by training his camera on someone's face and allowing that extra beat that affords the viewer a telling glimpse of what's hiding behind a character's eyes. Buscemi has an innate sense of knowing how to convey what he's trying to say, and he does it in a million small and different ways that are subtle and incisive. Simply put, he knows what works-- including how to get what he wants out of his actors-- and he presents it all with a pace and timing that are right on the mark.
In Tommy, Buscemi creates a character to whom many will be able to relate and identify on any number of different levels. To say that Tommy is a `loser' would be too much of a simplification, because the character is too complex for that tag alone to be accurate. Tommy is blue-collar, down on his luck, and like so many people in real life, just can't seem to put it all together, can't figure out how `life' is supposed to work. And that's what Buscemi conveys so subtly and so well, and it's the key to the success of this character-- it's what makes Tommy believable and real. Obviously, Buscemi knew exactly what he wanted when he wrote this character, and he puts it across with a brilliant, memorable performance which also demonstrates his ability to star in and carry a movie on his own. Certainly, he has a wonderful supporting cast that gives him plenty of help, but few character actors have ever been able to step into a lead role with such facility and achieve the level of success Buscemi has here. And it's work that deserves to be acknowledged.
There are a number of notable supporting performances in this film, as well, beginning with Mark Boone Junior, who as Mike captures the essence of a guy who is successful, but a loser nonetheless; LaPaglia, who gives a solid performance as Rob; Bracco, with a performance that is introspectively revealing; Debi Mazar, who with very little screen time leaves an indelible impression (and her eyes are absolutely mesmerizing); Kevin Corrigan (another of the finest character actors around), as Matthew; and especially Chloe Sevigny, as Debbie, Theresa's mature-beyond-her-years, seventeen-year-old niece.
Rounding out the ensemble cast are Carol Kane (Connie), Bronson Dudley (Bill), Michael Buscemi (Steve's real life brother, playing Tommy's brother, Raymond), Suzanne Shepherd (Jackie), Rockets Redglare (Stan), Seymour Cassel (Uncle Al), Annette Arnold (Sandy), Michael Imperioli (George), Mimi Rogers (Patty), Daniel Baldwin (Jerry) and Charles Newmark (Puck). An involving story presented with a rich assortment of memorable, convincing characters, `Trees Lounge' is a drama about life-- about the things going on in your own neighborhood, or downtown or two streets over, no matter where you are in the world. Wherever people are, there are situations like the ones depicted in this film, problems that have to be solved and life that has to be lived. And that's what makes this film so good; it gives the audience a chance to connect with, or at least examine, things that anyone anywhere will be able to recognize. It may have taken a collaborative effort to make this one what it is, but in the end, it's Buscemi's film from start to finish, and a satisfying little gem of a movie it is. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 8/10.
Not the most well written, well acted or most riveting film in the world but an entertaining watch nonetheless.
It's an interesting character movie where you sit and watch the life of a person for a short time frame out of his life.
Nothing special, but if you like movies like me, then every once and a while a good independently made character film is enjoyable to watch.
Steve Busceme's character was interesting and he played it well. An interesting slice of life yarn about a man down on his luck.
I will rate it 7 out of 10. Based on the IMD rating scale this achieves the minimum 7 rating, that in my opinion, makes a movie worthwhile to watch.
Steve Buscemi is certainly a multi talented actor and this movie also demonstrates his directing ability.
The movie doesn't really have a plot as such, more so it follows the life of Tommy (Buscemi) and the characters that are intertwined into his dull, boring sad existence.
I think what some people will dislike about the movie is that it does not have a closure to the storyline (possible spoiler here) rather it leaves us at a crossroad for Tommy which the movie has tracked to this point.
There are a number of impressive cameo's and supporting actors in the movie (Samuel L Jackson is again superb in his brief cameo), Anthony LaPaglia is very good as Rob. The sleeper here though is Chloe Sevigny. She looks the goods and her romantic involvement with Tommy provides us with the only real character development of the movie (and demonstrates the vulnerable side to Tommy).
As I said, I am sitting on the fence on this movie. I didn't really like it (the plot was to put it frankly boring). I did however find the manner in which the movie finished interesting as the lead character could have a number of outcomes of which you are left guessing.
Watch it but not when you are sleepy, you may just nod off.
!!!! MILD SPOILERS !!!!
I should perhaps also give some praise to Buscemi for writing a screenplay with an obvious subtext of never getting what you want : Tommy want`s to snort yet more drugs but someone comes into the bathroom , Tommy wants to take a woman he`s picked up in a bar but she falls asleep while he`s in the bathroom , a young kid wants to buy an ice cream but the ice cream man suddenly has a heart attack , so the theme to this movie is very clear . Such a pity realism takes precedence over an exciting plot
This is a perfect example that illustrates good actors don't necessarily make good films! The characters are weak, the story told a thousand times before and the complete luck of active plot makes the film suitable only for TV on a Sunday afternoon. Buscemi fails to push the actors to their limits resulting in a 'soap opera' style performance which is well below the average. Most of the scenes were pointless and contributed nothing to the film.
Trees Lounge could have started straight after Tommy inherited the Van (thirty minutes before the end) and still wouldn't make any difference! If you do end up watching the film just imagine how the film would be like if Tarantino directed it.
Better watch TV commercials :(
Roger Ebert wrote, "Steve Buscemi, who plays Tommy and also wrote and directed the film, knows about alcoholism from the inside out and backward, and his movie is the most accurate portrait of the daily saloon drinker I have ever seen." Now I don't know if this is the best film about a barfly ever made. I find that rather hard to believe. But I do know that Buscemi is a great actor, a champion of the independent film, and as "Trees Lounge" shows, he is an accomplished writer and director. I am glad to see he is getting the respect he deserves.
Comprised of a series of sensitively sketched vignettes, "Trees Lounge" mostly finds Buscemi perched atop barstools, nursing booze, sucking on cigarettes or snorting cocaine; anything to escape a life he despises. Elsewhere he strikes up a relationship with a young woman, played by the ethereal Chloe Sevigny. Buscemi's aims may be modest, but his film does well to capture a tone of melancholia and regret. "Trees Lounge" unfolds like a Tom Waits record, or perhaps the boozy laments of a Raymond Carver or Charles Bukowski.
7.9/10 – Worth one viewing. See "Ghost World" and Dan Rush's "Everything Must Go".
The character development is superb. Even though nothing much happens in the movie that is really profound, you feel like you are rewarded by watching because you get to know the characters, especially Tommy, played by Buschemi. You can almost feel that he is not really acting in this role...it feels more like he is re-living part of his life experience in the movie.
It is a slice of life from the outskirts of NYC or Nothern NJ that seems like it would actually happen.