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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Let's Get Lost", the sad jazz of Chet Baker

Let's Get Lost
Beefeater In-Edit 2012, Chapter III

Our third film on this edition during the 10th edition of the Beefeater In-Edit Festival was a special challenge for me. I assume this would decrease my "hipsterism" or "coolness factor" to dramatic levels, but I don't get jazz. I won't lie. It bores me, sometimes even annoys me, and I don't think it works for me, not even as background music. That's why "Let's Get Lost", incredibly praised by movie critics (rated 2nd on the documentaries' best-of list) was a challenging proposal for me? Would I enjoy it?

The answer is yes and no. Mostly "yes", because Chet Baker's story is powerful and puzzling, and foremost, because director Bruce Weber seems to be always there, allowed to explore not just the most pleasant parts, basically that Baker was an outstanding talent, a one-in-a-million musician, but also showing that he wasn't precisely a lovely human being: liar, drug addict, not a very caring father, troublemaker, etc. It seemed to me that he was careless about life, and in some way a very sad character. Was he really able to connect with other human beings aside from his trumpet or voice? Weber had the courage of presenting the contradictions of the artist. Showing that behind the "cool cat" flair, there was a lot more to dig in.

"Let's Get Lost" show us Baker's "glory days" in abundance, becoming an icon (he was also good-looking, so success was granted), a reference for the youth in the 50's. He basically represented being cool. It's very interesting to see (its also pointed out by a few opinions) how jazz and particularly Chet Baker were "the alternative" in those days. But his "dark side" was also notorious, and Weber finds and seeks opinions enough to let the spectator get its own conclusions. In particular, there's a lot of attention and information regarding Baker's behaviour with his several women. They are one of the stand-outs of the film for sure.

But I also said "no" before. And that's due to the amount of footage that to me was gratuitous or overlong (as you can see I'm not referring to the songs played despite admitting I'm not into jazz). We have plenty of them, and I can only presume artistic intentions (many of them seems to recall Nouvelle Vague in the way they are filmed) that may embellish the film as a whole, giving it a dreamlike sensation. Ok, it may fit with the music, and even gives a poetic touch reconstructing some moments of Baker's life. But there should be some logic in the chaos, and sometimes is very hard to find it in the film. The opening scene on the beach, the cars at the amusement park, these recurring night walks joined by stunning ladies, the naked women book... I can understand the purpose was to reflect that Baker's life was almost surreal, a junkie (the end of the film is striking) living a parallel existence, one that Weber wants also to present, mixing, building what his memoirs, thoughts and experiences would have been along with not that beautiful reality. But it really harms the dynamic of the film. A length of 120 minutes was completely unnecessary. It also makes it a bit confusing and, sorry to say, pedantic.

Overall, it's an striking portrait of a deeply absorbing character, but also a blurred documentary that wouldn't qualify as really recommendable for many. Shame because "Let's Get Lost" could have really deserved all the praise received.

SCORE: 6,5/10

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