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Bruce Weber Gets Lost Again With Chet Baker

Chet Baker

The spanking-new 35 mm print of Let’s Get Lost, Bruce Weber’s 1988 cult documentary, underscores the otherworldly beauty of the film — a lush, black-and-white valentine to jazz legend Chet Baker. The film itself, while centered on Baker, also unearths the Rosetta stone of Weber’s own aesthetic and careerlong obsessions: the iconic photographs of Baker taken by photographer William Claxton at the start of the musician’s career, which are generously peppered throughout the film. And the young Baker, all high cheekbones and sullen beauty, is the prototype of the slightly androgynous but undeniably masculine, pretty-boy hooligans that Weber has long favored as his homoerotic subjects. Let’s Get Lost is filled with performance clips from old TV shows, concerts and films; interviews with girlfriends, family members and acolytes (including Chris Isaak and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea); and original footage of the elderly Baker, his face a ruin of drugs and myriad fuckups. Detractors once quipped that the young Baker sang as if he had no idea what the lyrics meant; here, his voice brims with hard-earned life lessons. Shot in the last year of Baker’s life (he died under mysterious circumstances in Amsterdam in 1988), Weber’s film doesn’t pretend to be a critical measure of Baker or his art. It’s a visually hypnotic, engrossing musing by a fan who traffics in and perpetuates his hero’s mythology. (Nuart)

—Ernest Hardy