This documentary chronicles the life of an eccentric tour guide (Timothy “Speed” Levitch), who loquaciously offers an intriguing cultural history of New York City. When Levitch isn’t pointing out the more dicey moments in the lives of Greta Garbo, Arthur Miller and Thomas Paine from atop a double-decker bus, he’s articulately spewing into the camera contemplative bleatings about the city’s oppressive grid system, sexually suggestive terra-cotta architecture and his own misanthropic being. To the gaudy nebbish, who looks like John Lennon, sans charisma, and sounds like Woody Allen on helium, the universe is a neatly compartmentalized dichotomy of “cruise” and “anti-cruise,” with “cruise” referring to Levitch’s carnival-like occupation and free-spirited ideology.
Shot in gritty black-and-white, documentary style, “The Cruise” is an improvisational piece that hangs on the perverse quirkiness of Levitch’s persona. His standup caricature is at once compelling, arrogant and — when its learned that Levitch is a frustrated playwright who can barely eke out an existence — even contemptible. The dark blend of bleak reality and bubbly wit, may depress some and annoy others, but no mater how it affects you, “The Cruise” is deftly provocative.