If you had just directed a movie that went on to gross over $700 million worldwide, what would you direct next? That was the question writer/director/producer Chris Weitz must have asked himself after directing The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the latest installment of the ultra-successful teen vampire/werewolf/romance series.
Many directors might've used their cache to do a bloated megabudget remake of their favorite children's book, or maybe go for an Oscar by getting an A-list actor to play a historical figure with some sort of disability. But instead, Weitz chose to make a small movie from a screenplay that had been languishing for over 20 years and cast a Mexican actor unknown to most American audiences and a young actor making his movie debut in the leading roles. That film is A Better Life, the story of an illegal immigrant from Mexico named Carlos (Demian Bichir) who has been working as a gardener in Los Angeles for years as he raises his American-born teenage son, Luis (Jose Julian).
When Carlos' boss offers to sell Carlos his pickup truck and gardening equipment, Carlos' sees an opportunity to own his own business and create a better future for Luis, who has been drifting apart from Carlos and seems destined to join a gang. But when the truck gets stolen, Carlos and Luis team up to find it, traversing LA's Latino neighborhoods and reconnecting with each other in the process. See my review of A Better Life for What the Flick?! below.
Last week, I had the chance to interview Weitz before A Better Life opened in Los Angeles. We talked about the challenges and rewards of making a film about illegal immigrants, whether it's possible to make a non-political film about a group republicans are dead-set on demonizing, and a lot more. Check out my ReThink Interview with Chris Weitz below.
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