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Trees Lounge (Ws)
Trees Lounge
Actors: Eszter Balint, Richard Boes, Mark Boone Junior, Elizabeth Bracco, Michael Buscemi
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     1999     1hr 35min

All Tommy wants from life is what everyone else has - a job, a girl, a good time. But the harder he tries, the worse things get. And the more time he spends at Trees Lounge, his Long Island neighborhood bar, the more he ge...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Eszter Balint, Richard Boes, Mark Boone Junior, Elizabeth Bracco, Michael Buscemi
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/09/1999
Original Release Date: 10/11/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 10/11/1996
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 5/27/2010...
How can you know love Steve Buscemi in this one. A loser character, of course, but we know such people. We are able to sympathize with him. All his predicaments are believable. He lives in the same world we live in. Trees Lounge is in every town in America.

Movie Reviews

A Magisterial Effort
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 10/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Boy, am I glad I took the time to watch this movie! I suspect "Trees Lounge," a low budget 1996 film directed, written, and starred in by veteran character actor Steve Buscemi, slipped under a lot of people's radar. What a shame. This film ranks as one of the best dramas I have seen in quite some time. Most people would probably recognize Buscemi from his many appearances in films ranging from the Adam Sandler vehicle "Billy Madison" to the dark comedy "Ed and His Dead Mother." Well, Steve isn't putting on lipstick in this intense dark comedy about a New York loser and his relationships with like-minded souls living out their miserable existences at a neighborhood bar named Trees Lounge. I will never look at Steve Buscemi the same way after viewing this picture, and why this talented individual isn't getting more attention is beyond me. "Trees Lounge" is that good.Buscemi plays Tommy, a poor soul whose life spirals out of control day after day. He lost his job after taking some liberties with his employer's safe, lost his girlfriend to that same boss, cannot stop drinking to save his life, isn't above using drugs, and entangles himself in a relationship with the seventeen year old daughter of his former girlfriend's sister. Even worse, Tommy can't seem to land another job as a mechanic because his former employer badmouths him whenever someone calls for a reference. Tommy ultimately breaks down and takes a job as the driver of an ice cream truck, a position that causes more problems than solutions. He can't even pick up a girl at the bar without something bad happening. In a country where millions of people barely keep their heads above water, Tommy serves as an archetype of the lost soul. Arguably, his biggest problem stems from the fact that he blames everyone else for his own problems. Even when he approaches his former girlfriend with the intent to change for the better, he cannot do so without stating that he needs an external object to bring about that change (in this case, a child). In short, Tommy is afraid to look deep into his soul because he won't like what he will find there. Part of Tommy's problem rests on the fact that he lives above the bar, along with a few other losers like Billy, an old coot whose life melts away one drink at a time. By the end of the film, the viewer wonders whether Tommy will replace Billy at the bar and in life."Trees Lounge" does display comedic elements from time to time, giving rise to a situation where you laugh at scenes you know you shouldn't be chortling over. For example, there is the scene where the daytime bartender at Trees Lounge bets Tommy ten dollars that he cannot walk out of the bar without taking a drink. Tommy sneers at such a ridiculous proposition, wisecracking his way around the issue until finally forced to take the bet. He starts to walk away with the money, quickly reaches for his drink, downs it, and runs out of the bar. While the scene brings a smile to your face, you know at the same time that you are watching a man with a serious alcohol problem who probably isn't going to seek help anytime soon. I found the disheveled drunk who can't seem to keep his family together but who owns a moving company and a fancy house amusing, although it is an amusement tempered with a sense of sorrow for his inability to communicate with his own family. "Trees Lounge" plays your emotions like a master violinist handling a priceless instrument.The supporting cast floating in and out of "Trees Lounge" staggers the mind. Chloe Sevigny, Debi Mazar, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Carol Kane, Samuel L. Jackson, and Anthony LaPaglia all appear in roles both major and minor. Buscemi must have called in a bunch of favors for his film, and the recognizable faces definitely provide the otherwise dreary atmosphere of Tommy's life with a little glitter. Sevigny especially shines as the flirty yet wise Debbie, the teenage girl who accompanies Tommy on his ice cream rounds and who helps bring down a whole lot of trouble for him. The DVD version promises a commentary by Steve Buscemi and a music video by one of the soundtrack groups, but the version I watched included none of these extras. That is unfortunate, too, because I would really like to hear what Buscemi says about this spectacular effort. Ultimately, "Trees Lounge" offers no definitive conclusions about Tommy's life, no concrete resolutions about where he will end up. In this way, the film mirrors real life where we cannot arrive at certainties from mere snapshots of a specific time in a person's existence. Who knows? Maybe Tommy will snap out of his malaise and finally live his life to the fullest, or maybe his doom sits right around the corner. Whatever the result, the fascinating "Trees Lounge" sits on a video store shelf near you awaiting your attentions. Run, don't walk, to see this film."
A magnificent story about a man's growth in consciousness
stayandsee | Randolph, NJ United States | 12/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With an unlikely background of a dingy neighborhood bar, Steve Buscemi has produced an enlightening story about the spiritual growth of a man named Tommy (Steve Buscemi) who is burdened with what author John Bradshaw has termed "toxic shame". The audience quickly learns that Tommy is an alcoholic. As the film progresses, the audience also learns that he will do or say anything to avoid taking personal responsibility for himself and his life.The movie takes the audience through Tommy's healing crisis. When the movie begins, we find out that Tommy has recently lost his job as an automobile mechanic and his girlfriend (who is now pregnant with what may or may not be Tommy's baby). Instead of looking inside himself for the source of his problems, Tommy has fingered Rob, his former boss and his girlfriend's new lover, as the villain. In an early symbolic scene, Rob twists back Tommy's index finger in a spot outside of Rob's auto shop where Tommy has been spending his afternoons stewing in hatred and resentment.According to Tommy, everything would be different if he had an external reason to change. In the movie, Tommy's idea of a compelling external reason is symbolized as a wife and a child. Through the character of Mike (Mark Boone, Jr.), the movie demonstrates that the external reason alone doesn't bring true healing to a shame-based alcoholic. Like Tommy, Mike spends most of his time drinking in Trees Lounge. Unlike Tommy, Mike has a wife and a child. According to Tommy, Mike is a "wacko" because he still drinks and does drugs despite the fact that he has a compelling external reason (wife and child) to be more responsible.In a symbolic scene, Mike proclaims to Tommy and two young girls that he is "serious". Mike's actions, however, demonstrate that he still has an immature consciousness. After Mike's wife returns home for an apparent reconciliation, he has an opportunity to tell the truth and take responsibility for having a party with young girls in the house when his wife and daughter were away. Instead, he lies which leads to further marital problems when the lie is exposed.For most of the movie, it appears that Tommy would also not reach a higher level of consciousness. Rather, it appears that Tommy is destined to become an old drunk like Bill (Bronson Dudley) whose purpose in the movie is to act as a symbolic mirror of Tommy's probable future if he doesn't wake up.Tommy's crisis hits rock bottom when it is discovered that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old girl (Chloe Sevigny). After the girl's father (Daniel Baldwin) finds out, he hits Tommy on the head with a baseball bat. Symbolically, this blow represents the hit on the head that finally gets through to Tommy and wakes him up.In the following scene, Tommy is visiting his former girlfriend in the hospital after she has just given birth. In an initial appology, Tommy still holds onto his blaming, victim consciousness. At the end of the conversation, however, Tommy makes an unconditional apology in which he takes full responsibility for himself and his actions.In the brilliant final scene, Tommy walks into Trees Lounge and symbolically sits in Bill's chair. Shortly thereafter, Tommy learns that Bill is in the hospital in near-death condition. Symbolically, the audience is supposed to infer that Bill lost his wind at the moment of Tommy's unconditional apology and that Bill's survival (i.e., Tommy's future as an old drunk) depends on whether Tommy fully embraces his new change in consciousness in which he takes full responsibility for his life.With terrific camera work and choice of music, the movie shows that Tommy's external world is changing as a result of his internal change of consciousness. First, Tommy winces after taking a swill of his bottle of beer. Next, Tommy declines to down the shot of Wild Turkey directly in front of him on the bar.With the close-up shots of Tommy in thought at the end, Buscemi is shifting the focus to Tommy's inner consciousness. If one only looks at Tommy's external circumstances, his crisis appears to have been a disaster. If one looks at Tommy's significant change of consciousness, however, he is a triumphant hero. As a result of a devastating crisis, Tommy woke up and expanded his consciousness. As anyone who has tried to change knows, all real change begins on the inside."Trees Lounge" is a wonderful, thought-provoking film. The acting is superb, the soundtrack is terrific, and the spiritual message is subtly delivered. Highly recommended for everyone, especially spiritual seekers."
I was Tommy
Bt | Parts unknown | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Man, what a great movie; very well done. This is funny, sad, dark, and real. Steve Buscemi (who also wrote, & produced) gives his best performance, & that's saying plenty. This movie's been reviewed well, and the story is about a guy, and the people in his life that you'll see in every town. Alcoholism is no joke, and the existance that some folks end up living in is a darkness that few understand. People don't grow up saying "I'm gonna be an alcoholic some day", but when you're in "the pit", this is what it looks like. I lived in a very similar state, and existance, and this movie struck a very special chord for me. You won't find the storyline focusing on recovery, it strictly shows you a guy after he's crossed the line, so to speak. The characters in Tommy's life a so realistic that I'd swear I'd met them before. It's not a typical "Hollywood" movie like "Clean & Sober"; this is where the lost, and the sick end up before death, or recovery."