Everyone knows someone who's good at everything. You get three A-levels; they get five. You go to Birmingham Polytechnic; they "read" something at Oxford. You both start skiing at the same time, but you're crap; your "friend" picks it up as though born in an Alpine snowstorm with a couple of planks on his feet.
Yes, the point. Steve Buscemi is a bit like that. Okay, his winter-sporting capabilities aren't known, but he's a fantastic, rightly respected actor (witness Reservoir Dogs, Fargo and any number of hip, street-level indie films), and now, with the meandering "This Is My Life" movie Trees Lounge, he's a writer and director into the bargain. If we weren't such fans of the snaggle-toothed one, we'd probably loathe him.
One thing that saves him, however, is that Trees Lounge isn't really all that good. Rather, to be fair, it isn't really all that interesting. Buscemi's debut is one of those films that's simply "about" life (a not-very-nice life), based loosely on his own dismal existence before he decided to become an actor. We say "loosely" because the lead character, Tommy, is a man wholly against the world, wallowing in alcohol, addled by drugs and taking an unhealthy interest in underage girls. Refreshingly, very little in Trees Lounge is politically correct (neither is real life, of course, particularly at the gutter end). The result is a rather cheerless picture, lightened only by the vein of good-quality black comedy Buscemi's managed to inject into the proceedings. Although you probably shouldn't, Buscemi makes it easy for you to laugh when you see junkies jostling to snort a line of cocaine, or a row of silent drinkers concerned only with who's buying the next round.
As you'd expect, the performances are fine, although co-stars Samuel L Jackson, Elizabeth Bracco and Kids discovery Chloe Sevingny don't really get much to do; they just breeze in and out of the picture, happy to be along for the ride. Trees Lounge is like that - while it paints a convincing vision of lives ruled and ruined by the bottle, none of this makes for compelling viewing. Certainly not an hour-and-a-half of it.