Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Cruise

The anti-cruise is an attempt to imprison us. At every level of living it exists. Younger cruisers have asked me, "Why?" "Why is the anti-cruise so avaricious and constant in its attempt to stop the cruise? And I have no answer. There is no answer. I mean, it's gravitational, it's a relationship that's made up of reciprocals and pulling gravities. It simply exists. Where there is cruise there is an escort of anti-cruise. But even in a bastion of anti-cruise fodder... there is cruise. Somewhere in there is a sparkle of cruising energy. Deeply sublimated, within the bellowing belly of the beast.

This is a small diatribe from one of the most fascinating people that I have ever seen on film. I'm really digging into the vault to bring out this 1998 documentary, but it genuinely is one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Bennett Miller (who made his feature debut with Capote last year), The Cruise follows Timothy "Speed" Levitch. He gained the nickname because of his rapid fire speaking. This seems to work well in his profession of choice- a tour guide on a double Decker bus in New York City.

Levitch is genuine. From what I have read, how he is portrayed is exactly how he is. He has an intense love for New York City, considering his relationship with the city more as a marriage than living arrangements. He describes the city as a living being, which if you ask any New Yorker, they'll say it is. Much of the movie follows him on his tours rambling about the unknown sites and history of New York at a mile a minute. Some people on the bus laugh uncomfortably, but most adore him.

The quote at the beginning sums up his ideas on life. The title refers to the life force that he perceives to control all. He chooses to flow with it and let it guide him through life- ignoring all obstructions. He also references the 'Anti-cruise', which is any sort of obstacle that hampers the cruise. This has come to him in the form of physical and mental barriers. In one occasion he met the anti-cruise in the form of the police.

The movie does not necessarily portray him as a hero, even though I feel that's how many interpreted it. It simply portrays him as an interesting character, and that he is. The Cruise is reminiscent of Richard Linklater and his style of story telling found in Waking Life (which actually featured a scene with Levitch) and Before Sunrise. Like those movies, the Cruise is very dialog heavy. Except for a half-dozen characters, the only person on screen is Levitch himself. The entire movie functions as a forum for his rants. It may not seem enticing to listen to someone ramble for two hours on screen, but trust me, he never bores. Never. In addition to his role in Waking Life, he also had a small role in the recent take on Macbeth, Scotland PA

I had a difficult time tracking down this movie a few years ago. A used VHS copy sent me back almost $40 on eBay, and that was the cheapest I could find it. It should be easier now, however. With Miller hitting critical and commercial gold in Capote, the Cruise has been released now on DVD. Watch it, as soon as possible. I fell confident in saying that this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Five is not a high enough rating for this.



Shawn said...

When you showed me this documentary, it took me a long time to absorb it. Deciding what one thinks of Levitch is just so daunting because he comes on so strong so fast. Once becoming adjusted however it is indeed hard not to love this personality.

What makes the film so powerful is that it comes of so real and unique. Hearing Levitch give his spiel on the city pouring straight out of the heart of his love for it is just amazing. This film seems to be a prime example that some of the greatest ideas are someway inspired from something or someone. A character such as Levitch could never be created on a matching level to his peculiar yet brilliant personality.

While I find the film well done, interesting, and Levitch's rambling character to be charmingly lovable; overall the documentary just didn't quite propel itself to my absolutely loving it. Very much enjoyed and recommended, but still I must admit:

Marcia said...

I loved The Maestro and think it would be fun for New Years, Harry. Can you download a copy to disk?

bassoonchick said...

the maestro was awesome, very cool!