(Air Date: 1988)
"Let's Get Lost" was nominated for an Oscar and "The Thin Blue Line wasn't". As callous as it sounds, that may be because at least the Academy members knew who the late Chet Baker was, unlike Randall Dale Allan. Twenty minutes into Bruce Weber's sluggish study of a jazz artist in decline, our question was not "What's going to happen next?" but "Do we have to watch all this?", a fatal response to a documentary that will drag on for over two long hours.
Will it keep you on the edge of your seat to observe that a man of 57 with a history of drug and alcohol abuse does not look 24-years-old? It seems to come as news to Bruce Weber: "Do you know how much it hurts me to see you looking like this?" he asks the star of his film. "Well, Bruce", Baker drawls, "I AM 57 years old." Weber started out as a fashion photographer and it's obvious from the images he chooses: See Chet looking great. See Chet looking like hell. He even "casts" young Chet Baker lookalikes in his "documentary": See what Chet would look like if...
Who cares but Weber? And the rest of his documentary choices play like raw filler for the tabloids. We hear from no less than one mother, three children, one ex-wife and three past and present girlfriends, all of whom bicker about their relationship with Chet Baker. Weber to Baker's mother: "Did he disappoint you as a son?" Vera Baker doesn't want to answer but is too polite to tell the man with the camera to buzz off. "Yes", she says finally. "But don't let's go into that". If Vera Baker won't come across with the dirt, Weber asks Baker himself about the time he was beat up and lost his teeth. Then he cuts to a girlfriend. ("Chet lied about the way that happened.")
When an ex-wife tells Weber that Baker's girlfriend is evil and then asks him to cut something out, he leaves everything in, including her request. Unsurprisingly, the Baker family could no longer stand Weber by the time of the film's release. What happens in "Let's Get Lost" is that we learn more about Bruce Weber than Chet Baker. Thirty to forty minutes could be edited from this picture with no harm done, but we'd still be stuck with Weber's vision of Chet Baker as well as his one-of-a-kind insight that a great trumpet player could be a real creep. If you want to know the trumpet player, listen to Baker's Complete Pacific Jazz Live Recordings from 1953-1957 and skip "Let's Get Lost".
Copyright 1988 Monica Sullivan
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