Jul 2, 2007


So the other day I ran down to Film Forum to see Let's Get Lost, Bruce Weber's film about Chet Baker.. My friend David had insisted that I see it, said it was just what I love, really sad and beautiful, but I found the film very strange and surprising and I typed out an email very quickly to say what I thought and I figured I would put it here, too..

So I thought the movie was reallly strange.. I mean it was so gorgeous, just so unbelievably gorgeous and lush and dreamy and the blacks so inky and the whites so cloudy and everything just like the way you want the world to look all the time and then that music and his voice..! In general I dont think I love jazz too much but I love him, that dreamy music and that voice you could sink into and rub into your skin, like so gentle and sad and lovely and smooth, effortless, like the way he played... and so the combination of those lush images and that gentle sad gorgeous music and the whole like nostalgic effect of the old images of him so resplendent when he was young set against the images of him so wrecked later.. and the effect of everyone just sitting and remembering, remembering these delicious moments that are gone, that were so fleeting, those moments when they first fell in love with Chet or fell under his spell, before he disappointed them, and so everything's so about loss and things past and things you'll never get back and those moments before the world disappointed you but what was so weird I thought and what I didn't expect was that Chet Baker himself, at least the dood in this movie, was that he was so COMPLETELY UNINTERESTING, like the hollowest, most vacuous dood.. like he never says one interesting thing.. his stories are boring, he rarely shows any sort of emotion or thought and we’re repeatedly told that he’s an actor, a manipulator, someone you can’t trust, can’t rely on, can’t expect anything back from.

And so the movie I thought just slowly paints this dreamy, scattered portrait of this guy who just drifts through everything, is barely there, has no substance but just has this gift for music, this ability to effortlessly play his horn and sing these songs with no work, no care, nothing, and he makes everyone fall in love with him through this effortlessness, this “gentleness,” this ability to just not be there at all, and in his path he just leaves all these broken hearts and he barely even notices. It was so strange to me that this man who produced such lonesome tender devastating music himself showed no emotion, no real sense of anything, and while people reference his “pain” from time to time the filmmaker seemed completely uninterested in trying to get to the bottom of it or even to address it.. where it came from, what it was how it made his the man he was, WHY this guy became a junkie and took such a bad turn..

He doesn’t care about that, instead we get these women, one after the other, and their love for Chet, their bitterness and heartbreak that are so palpable, and then his children and their pain, and it’s way more substantial than anything we’ve seen from Chet, and I just felt like by the end he seems like this man that everyone projects everything onto, all their dreams and illusions, this gentle drifting blank man that a woman could pour her whole heart into and just end up devastated because there was nothing there to love, just an idea, like that Diane who loved him because he was the “embodiment of everything that gave her life meaning: jazz,” but that’s not anything that will love you back and when she talked about those six tragic heartbroken hours she waited for him and he never came and he didn’t come for FIVE MORE YEARS and she took him then, joyful, I felt like that is what the movie was about, like the longing this man creates and can’t fill, and it sort of slowly just made me really sad and it’s so strange and by the end I could barely listen to him when he spoke, just listened to the gorgeous blank murmur of his soft voice and it was just.. so strange and sad and hollow.

But then, also, I don’t of course know how much this is Chet and how much is the filmmaker.. there was a lot of stuff that seemed totally random.. like who was that long haired girl and pretty boy hanging out with Chet and Diane in all those fake, silly, dreamy romantic present-day scenes of them driving along or playing at the beach.. like we get so many shots of that long haired girl, her hourglass body, her dancing on the beach or swinging her hair or laughing, and it doesn’t mean ANYTHING, we don’t even know who she is. And what was with that scene of Chet looking through that book of photographs of naked women? Gorgeous photos, but it was so random and just like the long haired girl sort of stuck in for this gorgeous dreamy atmosphere, there was no substance, the filmmaker would rather film Chet looking at these photos than figure out who he was, and then in the last lines Chet addresses directly the fact that they’ve filmed a bunch of dreamy scenes that have no bearing to real life.. the bumper cars, the beach, the long drive in the convertible.. “real life isn’t like that, these thing don’t happen to people..” And ultimately the movie’s like this weird, broken down dream with nothing real about it except for the heartbreak dreams leave you with..