Cinematical is happy to premiere the following poster for Chris Weitz's 'A Better Life.' Moving on from CGI-laced tales of polar bears ('The Golden Compass') and werewolves ('The Twilight Saga: New Moon'), the director is heading back to more personal fare. The film details a Mexican gardener and undocumented immigrant, played by Demian Bichir ('Che'), trying to keep his young son Jose safe in East L.A. and away from gangs and immigration officials. After the man buys a truck to improve his business, the vehicle is stolen, and father and son must set out to find it.
We talked briefly with Chris Weitz about the film, which stems from what he calls the best script he's read since he started making films two decades ago. "In a very unsentimental, realistic way, it explores the love between a father and son and the tremendous efforts that people make to realize their dreams in this country," he says. "On this one, we're trying to punch above our weight class."
Hit the jump for the poster and some notes from Weitz: why he's moved on from CGI, why this is such a personal subject for him and why Twi-hards shouldn't jump ship, even though there are no rippled werewolves running around.
Why an Indie Now?
Weitz says it's the quality of the project. "Frankly, the scope of this movie is enormous, even though the story is very simple on the surface ... Of course, there is a conspicuous lack of CGI werewolves and talking polar bears. In that regard 'A Better Life' is nothing like my last two movies and in fact seems to have little to do with anything I've done before. ... In this case, the lives of the characters are very humble, but all the same they are extraordinary people. The emotions are very intimate, but the hopes of the characters are gigantic and universal."
'A Better Life' Is a Personal Experience
Weitz explains: "Part of my ancestry is Mexican. My grandmother came here in the 1920's, my wife is half-Cuban and half-Mexican, and it is high time that I learn to speak Spanish properly. ... [This is] a studio film made in East Los Angeles with exacting fidelity to the culture and the neighborhood and the everyday lives of the characters. That's what I'm proudest of -- having been able to bring to bear tremendous, global talents like Javier Aguirresarobe, our D.P.; Alexandre DesPlat, our composer; and Demian Bichir, who is one of the biggest movie stars in Mexico.
"And at the same time, the film has very local roots. We were able to reach out to great people like Father Gregory Boyles, who runs Homeboy Industries, an anti-gang program here in L.A.; Piolín, who is the most popular radio host in America, as it happens; and Ozomatli, who are one of my favorite bands in the world and are not only cultural ambassadors for the U.S. abroad but very, very Angeleno."
To the Twi-hards:
Weitz says: "Look, let's be honest: There's not a single vampire, not a werewolf or star-crossed romance in sight. Jose is quite a heartthrob but just doesn't have Jacob's abs. Demian plays an amazing Dad but doesn't have to deal with quite the same issues as Charlie Swan. But if a fan of 'Twilight' came away from watching 'New Moon' with a sense that that movie has been done well by me and my crew, they might be interested in seeing another film that deals with some pretty intense feelings and, frankly, packs a tremendous emotional wallop. I'll put it this way: I bet that Bella would go see 'A Better Life.' I bet she'd make the drive out to Port Angeles. And I bet she'd like it."