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Trees Lounge (15). Steve Buscemi's first film as writer-director is a passable, if somewhat pointless, stab at recreating the on-the-skids, off-the-cuff cinema of John Cassavetes. Buscemi also plays the lead role of Tommy, a Long Island barfly still stinging from a break-up with his longtime girlfriend, who's possibly pregnant with his child but is now married to the garage owner who recently fired him. To complicate matters, Tommy also starts to take a fancy to young Debbie (Chloe Sevigny), his ex-girlfriend's niece. Buscemi has assembled a strong cast; Kevin Corrigan, Samuel L Jackson, Debi Mazar, and most impressive of all, Sevigny (who made her debut in Larry Clark's Kids, and here, confirms that she's a screen natural). The film is studiously unstructured and resolutely character- driven - nothing wrong with that, but Buscemi would have done better with less familiar characters.

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (12). Baz Luhrmann's cacophonous, candy-coloured migraine of a movie transports the star-cross'd lovers (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) to present-day "Verona Beach", a garishly dilapidated American town, presided over by rival gangs the Montagues and the Capulets. Luhrmann's idea of accessible Shakespeare involves loud music, big guns, gaudy outfits, fireworks, manic camera moves, and hyperkinetic cutting; he ends up with a senseless mess. The most annoying aspect of this vulgarian approach is the deafening sound mix, which drowns out huge chunks of dialogue (though this could actually be a shrewd move: when you can hear the actors, it often seems as if they haven't a clue what they're saying). DiCaprio, as a chain-smoking Romeo who hangs out with a black drag-queen Mercutio, massacres most of his lines; Danes, on the other hand, is the only performer with enough gravitas and intuition to survive the carnage relatively unscathed.

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