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USA 1989
Directed by
Bruce Weber
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Let's Get Lost

 Although slightly over-indulgent in places, Bruce Weber’s portrait of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker is a fascinating study of an extraordinary (in the literal sense of being beyond the norm) individual and the double-edged gift of talent. Like Lester Young and Charlie Parker, although nowhere as innovative or influential in jazz music, Baker was a charismatic figure who lured many moths to the flame which also consumed its possessor. With spot-on black and white cinematography by Jeff Preiss Let’s Get Lost displays great feel for its subject and time – the crucial beginnings of a counter-culture during the Eisenhower years, the period which also threw up James Dean and Elvis, icons with whom Baker shares various traits.

The director was remarkably fortunate in that he had extraordinarily good access to Baker who died shortly after filming was completed as a result of a fall from his Amsterdam hotel window. Whilst Baker’s first two wives and eldest son do not appear in the film, his third wife and various girlfriends, including singer Ruth Young, are interviewed and shed a good deal of light on Baker’s personality. We also get snippets from a couple of films that Baker appeared in: Hell’s Horizon (1955) as well as a Hollywood picture, All The Fine Young Cannibals (1960) in which Baker was supposed to star (his part was taken by Robert Wagner, for which Baker should be eternally grateful) and excellent use is made of still photography (Weber is an experienced art and fashion photographer).

If the film has one shortcoming it is that Baker’s music is largely relegated to the background of Weber’s almost forensic portrait of a self-destructive life but there is no doubt that it is nevertheless a remarkable portrait.




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