Another Los Angeles in ‘Gardener’
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
LOS ANGELES — Quiet on the set was no small order last week, as Chris Weitz, probably best known as the director of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” worked a grittier side of the street on this city’s largely Hispanic East Side.
So it goes with “The Gardener,” a small film that has the tall, very dark-eyed Mr. Weitz — who talked of leaving the movie business after an unhappy experience with New Line Cinema’s high-budget flop “The Golden Compass” — looking downright chipper these days. ...
More remarkably, Mr. Weitz has turned his tiny movie, about a gardener and his son on a hunt for their stolen truck, into an exploration of Los Angeles places, both cultural and geographic, that have largely been ignored, even when production was at full throttle here. ...
Mr. Weitz went so far as to adjust the language in the script — the story was written by Roger L. Simon, with revisions by Eric Eason — to match the slang of not just the city, but of individual streets.
“The Gardener” is being made for a bit less than the cost of “American Pie.” In 1998 Mr. Weitz and his brother, Paul, shot that film — a teen comedy that went on to make $102 million at the domestic box office for Universal Pictures — on a budget reported to be about $11 million.
But “The Gardener” carries more risk in that its cast is virtually all Hispanic, with Demián Bichir, who played Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,” in the starring role. ...
Asked why he had chosen to make “The Gardener” at a time when the success of “New Moon” gave him choices, Mr. Weitz said it “was a chance to reconnect” with some family heritage. His grandmother, Lupita Tovar, from Oaxaca, Mexico, was a star who sometimes made films shot simultaneously in English and Spanish. She married Mr. Weitz’s grandfather, the agent Paul Kohner.
“This was a chance to get in touch with the language,” said Mr. Weitz, who figured that 30 percent of the dialogue in “The Gardener” would need English subtitles.
He added, “I’m one of the few people in my family who doesn’t speak Spanish.”
John Weitz was extremely good on socks. He designed some of the best men's socks in 20th-century America, he knew exactly which socks could be worn when and where, he understood the social and economic history of the sock, he himself wore extremely beautiful socks with total panache.
For those interested in style Weitz was an exemplar of modern dandysim, a scandalously well-dressed man who had an innate sense for the slightest detail of grooming, a rightful regular on every "Best Dressed" list. For those of us for whom Robert de Montesquiou or "Beau" Brummel are figures of respect that would be more than sufficient, but for the more solemn world at large Weitz was also a vastly successful businessman, a champion car racer and best-selling writer, a household name.
Hitler dismissed Göring's concerns by saying "But after all, [Von Ribbentrop] knows quite a lot of important people in England," leading Göring to reply "Mein Führer, that may be right, but the bad thing is, they know him."