Being and nothingness at the Trees Lounge means being served a cold beer when the older bottle runs dry.
Steve Buscemi's movie classic reflects heavily on current philosophical ideas: mainly existentialism. Personally, I first saw Trees Lounge in 1996 at an art house in Malverne not too far from where Buscemi grew up in Valley Stream Long Island. Sometimes the burbs does feel like a burp, a relief of internal commotion, yet this movie is more of a realistic eye opener than the release of internal energy.
As far as story telling, this movie is poignant. Buscemi who wrote, directed, and starred in Trees Lounge. tells the story of a middle-class suburban young man who attempts to get his life in order before it runs out. The young man, Tommy, takes over his uncle's ice cream neighborhood trunk after his uncle, Al, dies from a fatal heart attack while driving his truck on a quiet, suburban neighborhood. Even though this movie is dead serious, it also has comic moments: a young child with money in hand is constantly ignored by Tommy who isn't paying attention and drives right pass him.
In the eyes of some, Tommy might be considered a loser, a never do well. In the eyes of others, Tommy has lived a real, normal life filled with misfortunes and heart breaks. He's just whiling away the time, until his number is called and his ticket on life is punched out. Like the ideas of Satre and Camus, it's all about the idea of here and now then the passage into the existential world of nothingness called so by the famous existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Yet before he final moment happens Tommy spends plenty of his time in the neighborhood pub called Trees Lounge. There he chats with Mike, a regular there, along with other customers. It's there people hang out and bond. As far as cinema, this one has a European flair done by an American. Without a doubt, this movie evokes profound thoughts and reflections. If someone hangs out in a bar all the time, is that person a loser? Not in my eyes, it is subjective. For me that person who always hang out in bars, I believe, is someone who is thirsty. There are a million and one stories to tell about hanging out in a bar. I remember once at two in the morning, a burping contest broke out when those drinking started to burp melodiously like a chorus. Thus is life is the burbs, sometimes it's a burp fest. other times, it's quite a bore fest.
When I first saw, Trees Lounge, it was filmed in standard definition. This movie is in high definition. Oh, how the times have changed. The fact, though, that's in HD made it more enjoyable to watch. When I first saw it in SD twenty years ago, the movie had less impact. Regardless, the bottom line is this movie is well-crafted, brilliant, and most of all, an artistic gem. It's nice to know that someone well known behind the camera has something to say in a humble tone without bright lights. Even if that something to say is nothing. The meaningless of life for some, if not many.
As far as knowing his surrounding, Buscemi is well verse in life in both the burb and in the city. He knows young adults want to get out of the burb to live in the more exciting city. After all, the burb could be quite humdrum. And the city offers the antidote, with excitement and opportunity, all existentially speaking.
This movie makes me think, it is well serving for those who spent four years in college, studying an abstract liberal arts curriculum, then find themselves endlessly hitting the pavement, not getting good job offers, only a thank you for showing up. The next stop after a futile job search, why, of course, the Trees Lounge.