Fast Chat: Thank You, Academy

Long before he was nominated for best director for "Capote," Bennett Miller made another film about an oddball writer with a squeaky voice. Released in 1998, "The Cruise" is a documentary tribute to Timothy (Speed) Levitch, an eccentric Manhattan bus-tour guide who speaks in florid poetry about the city that enthralls him. With its rich footage of New York, including the World Trade Center, the small cult film practically disappeared after 9/11. But the success of "Capote" has chest-pumped Miller's earlier effort, which is now being released for the first time on DVD. Susannah Meadows talked with the filmmaker.

Honestly, I really love this movie. I was really frustrated when it never came out on DVD. This thing you labor on, and you know it reaches people, is flirting with oblivion.

I watched that footage so much, editing that scene where he's twirling around on the plaza. The day after 9/11, I ended up being in one of those half-sleep states, and that footage entered into my brain in a virtual-reality way. I was able to walk around the World Trade Center plaza. I recall a piece of footage that did not make it into the film. At one point Speed is looking at the towers and says, "It's hard for people to imagine one day they won't be there."

I do think that this is a really little time capsule of a moment pre-9/11, a kind of New York which I think does feel erased. We've become acclimated to this new world, and there's something wrong with it. This character Speed was an oddity in '98. I don't think that that spirit survives really well now.