Actor Steve Buscemi, best known for his film roles playing bug-eyed cons, thugs, villains or assorted weasely disreputable characters in films including Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski and Fargo, has returned to the director’s chair for a new film that finds humor in small town life.

Lonesome Jim, Buscemi’s third major directorial feature, premiered on January 22nd at The Sundance Film Festival.

A preview screening of Lonesome Jim featuring a post-screening discussion led by Buscemi in person, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30th, as part of American Cinematheque programming at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica.

Tickets are $9 for general admission, $8 for seniors and $6 for Cinematheque members.

Lonesome Jim centers on the activities of “Jim” (played by Casey Affleck), who returns to small town life in Indiana after failing to make it in New York.

After dealing once again with his overbearing mother, distant father and depressed older brother, he finds constant reminders at home and around town of why he left. His one cause for hope is his relationship with a local nurse (played by Liv Tyler).

Buscemi’s other film directing credits include Animal House (2000), about a young man who goes to prison and is taken under the wing of a tough older convict who becomes his mentor; and Trees Lounge (1996), about an irritating loser whose life is in a slump after being fired from his job after he “borrowed” money from the cash register.

Beginning in 2004, Buscemi started playing the role of Tony Blundetto, Tony Soprano’s cousin and childhood friend in the hit mob-themed television show The Sopranos.

Buscemi also directed four acclaimed episodes of the series.

Though Buscemi often plays robbers and thugs on screen, in real life he is said to be a supporter of various charities, including the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

A Brooklyn native and former New York City firefighter, Buscemi volunteered anonymously at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Information, (323) 466-3456.

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