Rightwing Film Geek

Lost from the 80s

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LET’S GET LOST — Bruce Weber, USA, 1989, 8

Bad movies can sometimes make good movies in the same genre look even better in retrospect than they might have otherwise. LET’S GET LOST is a documentary about jazz trumpeter/singer Chet Baker whose life seemed to follow the same trajectory as Ray Charles or Johnny Cash. Or rather, the trajectory of RAY or WALK THE LINE …. the early success, the multiple marriages/family crises, the drug addiction, the out-of-favor period, the comeback.

But LET’S GET LOST doesn’t follow that template at all, and really profits by that comparison. Director Bruce Weber does something curious and refreshing with the life story, which is to basically ignore it, though admittedly that means the film works better when you see it the second time, as I just did, or with someone who already knows the basic Chet Baker bio. This late-80s documentary, which I saw at the time and liked fairly well, is apparently making the theatrical rounds of America’s bigger cities (I can’t think why … unless it’s the 20th anniversary of Baker’s death). I wasn’t even looking out for it, but it was a welcome surprise to see it suddenly listed in a commercial theater, rather than a repertory.

Instead of a biopic, Weber made a film that’s less like a documentary and more like a piece of Romantic fiction. LET’S GET LOST, like Coleridge’s Xanadu, feels like the opium haze that Baker’s life apparently was, overripe Romantic decadence as it falls from the tree (Camille Paglia would love this movie). Though it’s never really “difficult” to follow, LOST jumps around in time without too much concern for telling a story. Instead, Weber goes for a reverie feel, for a collection of moods and feelings, with montages from the past drifting in and out as if trying to erase the sense of time itself. Baker doesn’t really “go” from being a hip jazzman to a derelict; it’s more like he’s always both. Continue reading

March 12, 2008 Posted by | Bruce Weber, Chet Baker | Leave a comment