You, the night and the music are the themes of photographer Bruce Weber’s ’88 documentary about Chet Baker, ’50s West Coast cool-jazz icon-turned-junkie waster. To paraphrase a contributor, the young Baker was bad and beautiful, a James Dean of the Beats-jazz scene and inveterate seducer with whom Weber seems smitten. By contrast, the ’80s Baker is smack-deathly and barely there, wafting questions aside like cigarette smoke. Between these extremes, Weber juxtaposes romantically noir-ish visions of an aged Baker slumped in a car in the Cali night, like a man heading to his doom, with tempering truths from Baker’s friends, lovers and family. The result plays like an elegy for the demise of the cool, thick with the small-hours allure of addiction and infatuation but smart enough to see clearly.
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