Trees Lounge displayed confident, unshowy direction, superb low key performances, gentle wit and total credibility. Steve Buscemi's second directorial outing - adapted by Edward Bunker from his own novel - places those same virtues at the service of a rather darker story. A 21-year-old from a comfortable background, Ron Decker (Furlong) is given a harsh sentence for dealing marijuana; once inside, his good looks inevitably attract attention. Fortunately, prison fixer and gangleader Earl Copen (Dafoe) commands enough respect to offer protection - though some, including the officials, reckon he just wants his own punk. A fascinating, ambiguous (and hence suspenseful) portrait of the central relationship between the novice and his all-too-experienced mentor, the film also succeeds as a study of friendship, honour and the lasting effects of rough justice - doled out by cons and the authorities alike. John Lurie's score is terrific, the cast is top notch (watch out for Ron's tranny cellmate), and the whole thing blends tough observation with moments of surprising tenderness.