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 »ts involved with the lives of the colorful characters he meets there. Deluxe Edition includes: Director's commentary, original theatrical trailer, Trees Lounge music video. Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony LaPaglia« less
Angela F. from CHARLOTTESVLE, VA 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.
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."
Impressive Work by Steve Buscemi
Reviewer | 04/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Steve Buscemi has long been one of the premiere character actors in the business; his resume reads like a veritable Who's Who of interesting, complex characters who run the gamut from psycho hit-man to regular guy, all of whom he has brought vividly to life in film after film. And whether or not a particular project is a hit or a flop, Buscemi is always good, and can always be counted upon to add that extra something to any given film, as he has in "Trees Lounge," an affecting drama he not only stars in, but with which he makes his debut as a writer/director-- and an impressive debut it is. 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."
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Reviewer | 04/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A BIG little film by writer/director/star Steve Buscemi helped by a healthy cast and witty script, TREES LOUNGE is the indie version of CHEERS to a certain degree. A good character study with Buscemi as Tommy, an umemployed car mechanic dealing with his mistakes( past and present) and drowning his sorrows at a local hole-in-the-wall bar. Buscemi's performance is low key yet full of life as the well-meaning lovable misfit who loses his job, girlfriend, an Uncle and gets involved (innocently platonical) with his 17 year old niece, Debbie (Chloë Sevigny). He puts his life together somewhat as he takes over his dead Uncle's Ice Cream Truck business but trouble abounds as he takes on Debbie as an "assistant". There is an intertwined sideplot with fellow barfly Mike (Mark Boone, Jr.)who has just moved out from the city into the Long Island suburbs with his family. He is a bored furniture moving contractor who has ended up "running his business" from the bar much to the dismay of his wife. There are excellent support roles especially Carol Kane as barmaid Connie along with weighty cameos from Mimi Rogers, Samuel Jackson, Debi Mezar, Anthony LaPaglia,Daniel Baldwin, and Seymore Cassel. Their characters, along with some great Long Island location shots makes TREES LOUNGE a fun and interesting movie to watch. The film doesn't resolve and sugercoat problems, however, it bears a good portrait of well meaning but empty lives of an existing population in anywhere U.S.A."