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, ...
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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
Timothy 'Speed' Levitch:
By saying that everyone likes The Grid Plan you're saying, "I'm going to relive all the mistakes my parents made. I'm going to identify and relive all the sorrows my mother ever lived through. I will propagate and create dysfunctional children in the same dysfunctional way that I was raised. I will spread neurosis throughout the landscape and do my best to recreate myself and the damages of my life for the next generation."
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There are eight million stories in the naked city, and we'd allbe better for seeing this one
The Cruise isn't so much of a film as it is an awakening. It is the story of one of the most unique, interesting, brilliant, and bizarre men in the most unique, interesting, brilliant, and bizarre of cities. The man is Timothy "Speed" Levitch. The city is New York. Timothy Levitch is a twentysomething New York City Bus Tour Guide. This is a good thing, because Levitch likes to talk, and talk, and then talk some more.
Levitch is a philosopher with a unique perspective on life: He views all the worlds materials as having a symbiotic relationship with each other in a way not so much cosmic as intertwined. This leads to his belief that The Brooklyn Bridge not only is one of his best friends, but the only friend who hasn't let him down. He also feels that he has had an on again off again relationship with New York City, and he has an ongoing battle with the "anti-cruise" forces. See, the anti-cruise forces are those that impose conformity on Levitch. Among others, these include his Grandmother, the police, and the city map grid.
All this may appear to be the ravings of a misguided lunatic, and at first glance Levitch surely fits the bill. Wearing something akin to Elton John's wardrobe, Levitch was a sight to behold at the premiere. However, there is more to him than that. You might not agree with Levitch after seeing this documentary, but you can't dismiss him either. He is often brilliant in his analysis of the inanities that we pass for our daily reality and routine. In his brilliant critique of the city grid system, when he says "why don't we just rob all our imagination and wonder," we tend to agree. According to Levitch, we often do.
Levitch is just as fascinating on his bus tour, speaking with a vast knowledge of NYC at a pace that demonstrates his nickname, "speed," perfectly. He mentions famous names and apartments in rapid fire succession, fascinating quotes, and interesting bizarre stories that hurl at you so fast that the tour must seem like a trip into another universe. And that is exactly the point of his tale. In one of the opening sequences, he says that the goal of the city tour is to change your view forever.
We see him talking and mingling with people, completely stripped of self conscience and convention that pervade our interactions. You see both a man full of insecurities, but also a man fully comfortable with them. In fact, you could even say he revels in them. Without those insecurities, he might not have the hatred of the "anti-cruise" forces that he, and the audience, have so much fun rebelling against.
This is never more true than in a fascinating scene when he stands with his friend the Brooklyn Bridge and verbally accosts all those who have done him wrong. These include women who have spurned him, students who picked on him, and many others, including his parents. The footage is breathtaking, hysterical, and sad all at the same time. It shows a man who may or may not have come to peace with his reality, who also fully understands that the world has not.
That scene, and the last one, where Levitch decides whether to open a door that leads to top of a skyscraper, considering the risk of the alarm going off, are the best in the film. That last one, which clearly demonstrates how and why Levitch has made the unique choices he has made, is all the more powerful, once we've gotten to know him.
The triumph of the filmmakers is in finding the material to begin with. Levitch is absolutely fascinating, and the filmmakers have brought this to the surface. They are smart enough to know they have a winner, and their style is for the most part unobtrusive. They show Levitch just being Levitch. Where the film has triumphed is at the editing level. The film's flow makes sense, and the footage they capture brings us the essence of the man.
After these 87 minutes, we feel like we know Levitch. We have seen him laugh, cry, scream, and talk, and talk, and talk. We have gone along for the ride. While we may not be fighting the "anti-cruise" forces after we've seen this story, we did for these 87 minutes. As the saying goes, "There are 8 million stories in the naked city," and we would all be better for seeing this one.
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