Monday, March 7, 2011

The Cruise

            It took me three days to watch The Cruise and it’s only an hour and fifteen minutes or so. I was so intrigued by this character when we watched a clip in class and I wanted to find out more about him. But you don’t. It’s the same thing for the whole hour and whatever. He says all these things and espouses all these ideas, but I felt like I didn’t really get to know him. It was more of what than why.  And it gets old. So, I guess, overall his storytelling approach was entirely ineffective, at least on me because it didn’t change my views or anything (and that’s how I measure something as effective). One particularly ineffective moment was toward the end. The Bennett Miller chose to have this sentimental sounding piano piece play as Timothy "Speed" Levitch looked up at the twin towers. It felt contrived because it seemed the filmmaker was trying to hard to make the audience feel something.
            In essence, though, I did learn this character of a guy has a lot of ideas and that was communicated effectively. I loved the snappy click of the microphone as he turned it off and on when he thought of another fact to tell or finished with one he started. I loved how he spoke, too—word choice not tone of voice. His diction was very lofty and I feel like the poeticness of his speech was emphasized with the images the filmmaker chose to show as Levitch spoke them. There is a moment where he describes humanity and instead of watching him talk you watch a ferry pass across the screen. The moment was kind of powerful and definitely beautiful in an odd way.
            Part of the ineffectiveness of this film was the length. I understood the character thirty minutes in, if not earlier. He compares the old bus touring company he used to work for with the one he is employed by now, and he gives examples of historical and fictional characters that would work there. The old one was the Spartacus-type. The current one is the Willy Wonka-type, who he admits to channeling.
            The character the filmmaker chose was good and bad. He was effective because he was interesting, but ineffective because he was interesting. I spent a large portion of the movie laughing at him because his ideas are so outlandish, but I know this isn’t what the filmmaker intended. I can tell in the way Miller structures his edits, he is not trying to make us think Levitch is insane, but instead just showing us and letting us make conclusions. Miller may even be trying to say, “You know, this guy seems crazy, but he is grasping at something really important.” That important thing being to ‘seize the day.’ There is history in every place and important things to be recognized, but also history to make of our own. Levitch states it best himself when he mentions that he only has this tour to change their lives. It’s his own type of missionary work and getting in touch with God by appreciating his surroundings. Cruising is his way of accomplishing it. There is something profound to be learned from this seemingly crazy guy, but I think the guy tells it better himself than the movie shows it.

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