This unusual black-and-white documentary directed by Bennett Miller focuses on the strange life of Timothy "Speed" Levitch, a New York City tour bus guide. He begins his spiel: "H. G. Wells once wrote that to tell the story of New York City is to tell the history of the world. Fasten your seatbelts." Yes, do that. With references to George Gershwin, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allen Poe, Dylan Thomas, and others, Levitch is a walking encyclopedia about literary Manhattan.

Although he only earns $200 a week, has been in prison, and mooches off friends for a place to bunk down; this madcap soul celebrates the city with lyrical passion — from terra cotta on buildings to some large leaves near a tree. His closest friends are some pillars of stone on the Brooklyn Bridge: "They really make me feel whole, and they remind me that my future has a brightness perhaps."

Levitch is a man with a mission: he wants to startle people into an awareness of the glory and beauty of the city they take for granted. But alas, most miss the message and, at times, the sourness of an idealist turned cynic comes through in the tour guide's patter. The Cruise is a zany, bizarre documentary that matches the energy and eccentricity of New York City.