Friday, July 03, 2015

The Cruise (1998 film)




Directed and shot by Bennett Miller, The Cruise is a documentary that follows the ramblings and comments of the philosopher Timothy “Speed” Levitch who would speak while being a tour guide for New York City bus rides. The film is a look into one of the most unconventional figures in the world of art who would talk about things in the world around him. The result is an intriguing though very self-indulgent film from Bennett Miller.

Timothy “Speed” Levitch was a cult figure in the 1990s through his fast-talking yet philosophical ramblings where he was a tour guide for New York City bus rides as he talked about various places in the city and told little stories about these places. While he often spouts about things in the city and some of his own views about it, it’s a film that follows the man not just working as a tour guide but also in his own cruises around the city that he loves and sometimes hates. At times, it is very fascinating to revel into Levitch’s views into the world as well as himself as he is an interesting figure. Yet, there are moments where his ramblings can be overwhelming but also boring to listen to.

Shot in this grainy black-and-white video stock, Miller follows Levitch in his many surroundings as he often crashes in people’s places and would make his living doing the tour guide thing. Some of which has him hoping to give him a writing career as he also ponders about the idea of having a real job as he is viewed by his own family as a failure. Levitch is anything but a failure as he manages to be quite compelling at times in his work. Yet, his nasally voice isn’t for everyone while his ramblings about poets and philosophical figures not only becomes too much but it definitely makes the film to be a chore to watch. Even as Miller tries to make him less boring as he follows him around endlessly on these tour buses and in New York City while he also talks about things on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Miller’s direction is quite simple as he often gazes into images of the city as it’s a character in the film while he also shoots reaction from the people on tour as some are fascinated but others are just baffled and bored by Levitch’s own ramblings. With the aid of editor Michael Levine and sound editor Stephen Altobello, along with sound mixer David Novack, Miller goes for a very low-key, cinema verite style as he is shooting the film as if it is a low-budget documentary. Yet, it’s look is very fascinating as there are some things on the technical front that is solid. It’s just that the subject matter isn’t very interesting after ten-fifteen minutes. The film’s music by Marty Beller is low-key as it‘s mostly piano-based music while music supervisor Tracy McKnight goes for the same approach with just piano-based classical music as well.

The Cruise is a very dull film from Bennett Miller. Though Timothy “Speed” Levitch is an interesting figure, it’s a film that showcases someone who can be fascinating but his endless ramblings about everything does become a bore. In the end, The Cruise is a terrible film from Bennett Miller.

Bennett Miller Films: Capote - Moneyball - Foxcatcher - The Auteurs #47: Bennett Miller

© thevoid99 2015

2 comments:

Wendell Ottley said...

Never heard of this one. The guy sounds like an interesting subject, but I think I'll pass.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-I watched it for my upcoming Auteurs piece on Miller but it was tough to watch and I found myself tuning out of it. Yeah, I'd pass on it unless you're interested in seeing what Miller was doing early on.