Affectionate portrait of Tim "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for Manhattan's Gray Line double-decker buses. He talks fast, is in love with the city, and dispenses historical facts, ... See full summary »
Affectionate portrait of Tim "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for Manhattan's Gray Line double-decker buses. He talks fast, is in love with the city, and dispenses historical facts, architectural analysis, and philosophical musings in equal measures. He's reflective and funny about cruising: he loves it, got in it to meet women, and he'd quit work if he could. His personal life is disclosed in small doses: he takes home $200 a week for 20 hours work, home is his suitcase and wherever he can flop, he's been arrested for going out on the roof tops of skyscrapers to see his city; he stands between the towers of the World Trade Center, spins until he's dizzy, then looks up. Written by
New York at its quirky outsider insider best, but it's not so engrossing after awhile
The Cruise (1998)
Who is Timothy Speed Levitch?
A New Yorker, most of all. If you're a New Yorker, you know what I mean.
He's a quirky individualist who is the tour guide on one of those buses with an open second layer on top, and he rambles with idiosyncratic abandon about different aspects of the city. It would be fun to have him for your real tour guide, but I don't do tour buses, and of course the movie is all most of us have instead, so you do get something here of the man's style and his love of the city. Eventually it becomes more than a weird love letter to New York, and we come to see how a man is coping with being alive in the city and making sense of the systems that he finds insidious (including the justice system, which he once negotiated as an accused).
If you like documentaries, and you like New York, and you appreciate oddball people, this might just be a great little movie. Overall, I found it too narrow, too dependent on liking the main and only character, and too unexceptional (actually) to take off.
"Don't look up until after you're dizzy." This is just after he tells a boy on the bus that it's fun to stand between the twin towers and spin until you get dizzy, and they you can look up and it seems like the two buildings are about to fall on you. In a way, this defines fully half of the man, his boyish lack of restraint, his joy for life. He layers lots of facts about New York City into this zany fun outlook.
I didn't get swept up by his monologues partly because I've known too many people like Levitch, at least in pieces, just by knowing lots of artists and others who want to do their thing and the world can take it or leave it. His freewheeling theories are really not that strange, either, and the self-aggrandizing hidden by a veneer of humility is a bit too much about ego. Listen to me, he says, and we have to listen, even when it's not really so interesting. Don't get me wrong, I find Levitch to be an attractive kind of person, someone who is alive on their own terms, who has theories about how that world works that can't hold water but are functional anyway, and who is actually happy amidst all the grey sadness.
Still, I got a bit restless and bored by the not-so-brilliant after all chatter. Yet, it occurs to me that other people may not have run into these kinds of people, and this movie is a great entry point, and hopefully one that makes you appreciate all of them, Levitch in particular. Really, I wish I was more like him, and maybe in my own way I am, though I lack his unselfconsciousness. But what I mean is we are all secretly wishing we could just throw out all the worries we have and live what seems to be a very simple life, giving people pleasure on these bus tours and therefore seeing New York yourself, and lots of different kinds of people, every day you go to work.
It's not enough for a great movie, but it's unique enough and unpretentious, and filmed with a low-budget accessibility (by the director), you should give it a shot. You'll know after ten minutes what the flavor of the whole movie is, and even much of the content.
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