Nine weeks of great films, thought provoking stories on the big screen, and engaging dialogue with top movie talent. Don’t miss the most anticipated new films of the season prior to their theatrical release, along with a special screening of a classic James Coburn film in tribute to our series sponsor. Recently screened films and talent included: "Sicario" with Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, "Pawn Sacrifice" with Tobey Maguire, and "The Walk" with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Current Film Schedule
A film that will change the way Americans consider the game of football.
"At the center of this film is a man who was delivered a truth about a game that he had no connection to, but he had to deliver painful information to a group of people that he had a deep desire to be accepted by," says Will Smith who stars in the film "Concussion" as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the initial doctor who discovered the connection between football and serious neurological issues created by repetitive head trauma.
For writer director Peter Landesman, the film is about much more than football. "Professional football is more than a sport. More than a business. It is a cultural and national institution. Football is how we spend our Sundays in the fall and winter. The Super Bowl is watched by a billion people. Much is at stake -- culturally, socially, and economically. And like any gigantic business, there are powerful interests invested in keeping it going, no matter the cost. When Dr. Omalu made a discovery that threatened not just business as usual, but the very fabric of the game -- the hits, the violence -- those interests went into high gear. When Dr. Omalu was focused only on the truth, and the spirit of the dead, and was determined to make the facts known. I hope this film does this too. The stakes couldn't be higher."
The film will be released in theatres nationwide on December 25, 2015.
Presented by Sony Pictures
Directed by Peter Landesman
Rated PG-13 / 123 minutes
Long before transgender issues entered the mainstream consciousness, Lili Elbe received one of the first gender reassignment surgeries in Europe. Her story is the basis for "The Danish Girl," which hits theaters on November 26.
"The Danish Girl" stars Eddie Redmayne as Elbe and takes viewers back into Copenhagen, where Elbe was living as an artist named Einar Wagener with artist wife Gerda, played by Alicia Vikander. When Einar begins to model for Gerda as a woman, Lili gradually begins to reveal herself and the couple's relationship evolves.
KCET Cinema Series members had the chance to see "The Danish Girl" on Tuesday, November 17. Joining host Pete Hammond for the post-screening Q/A session were director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech," "Les Miserables"), screenwriter Lucinda Coxon ("Crimson Peak") and producers Gail Mutrux and Anne Harrison. Below is an edited version of their conversation.
The KCET Cinema Series is sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation. The winter series features nine films screened weekly at the ArcLight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks. In previous weeks, members enjoyed special guests Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel after a screening of "Youth," director John Crowley and actress Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn" and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy for the most anticipated film of the season, "Carol."
On making "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: The only reason I'm here under this incredibly large screen, which feels like the largest screen that I've ever played "The Danish Girl" on, is because of the script written by the woman on my left, Lucinda Coxon. I was lucky enough to read it, late 2008. I was in early pre-production on "The King's Speech," and, without doubt, it's the best script I've ever read. I found it incredibly moving. It moved me to tears on a couple of occasions. I hoped that one day, I would get the chance to make it as a movie, but a seven year involvement with this film makes me a bit of a newbie, because my wonderful producer, Gail Mutrux, fell in love with it 15 years ago. Fellow producer Anne Harrison fell in love with it 12, 10 years ago, so it's a real passion project for all of us.
Lucinda Coxon: I'm really, I'm either a kind of a psychic, but lazy, or the world's worst opportunist. Eleven years ago, I thought, "hey, here's this really neat thing, I'll write a script now and I'll be able to jump on the transgender bandwagon in a decade." I think when I first read David Ebershoff fabulous novel, I didn't know anything about this story...When I researched it, there was relatively little research material about it and there weren't very many people very interested in it. As we discovered, as we tried to get the film financed, there weren't very many people very interested in the transgender debate at all and people were very nervous about it.
Of course, I had made the classic mistake of falling in love with it and therefore assuming that everyone would fall in love with it and thinking, well, this is just going to finance itself because it's just so great and who could resist this extraordinary story.
I think it's been really serendipitous that the film wasn't made sooner, as it turns out. That's not just being philosophical in retrospect, I think that this is the perfect moment and it's fantastic to be part of this rising tide.
Gail Mutrux: I think we were very lucky because it wasn't sort of nobody. There were pieces that would come together and then fall apart. It got pretty close a few times, but it wasn't until Tom seriously wanted to do it that we felt that it was going to get made. It was exciting.
Tom Hooper: I fell in love with the love story at the spine and the way that Lucinda wrote the script. It's very much a portrait of a marriage going through a profound change. I think at one level, anyone who has been in a long relationship or a long marriage, partners can change over time. You can start married to someone who's a very different person by the end of it. It certainly is true of my parents' marriage.
It's interesting because I fell in love with this around the same time as "The King's Speech." Both projects come from the same moment in time, even though one's taken longer to make. I think for me, there's a very powerful universal theme linking both, which is that all of us have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, or the true version of ourselves, whether that's shyness insecurity. Whether it's anxiety or addiction or depression. Whether it's stammering, like in "The King's Speech," Bertie in "The King's Speech." But, to not identify with the gender you're assigned at birth, I can't imagine a more profound block a human being can experience, between them and their true identity. It's surely a cause of such distress to the individual involved, but in this story, in the 1920s when there was no road map for transition, when the word transgender didn't exist, when the medical establishment pathologized such a sense of self as a disease. How could this change happen?
I think what led me to this story is that what allowed transformation to happen was the space opened up by love. The love at the center of the film, I think, allows this transformation to happen. The story, Lucinda's wonderful script, the real lives these artists led teaches us that if you are blocked in any way, if you are truly loved, if you are truly seen, you have the best chance of transforming yourself.
On why Lili Elbe's story matters today.
Lucinda Coxon: I think, as we were saying, one of the things that's really important to me is the universality of the story. Certainly, the true histories of these two people were swept away by the turbulence of 20th Century history. For example, Lili Elbe's medical records were few and far between because they were kept in a hospital in Dresden, which was destroyed by Allied bombing at the end of the second World War. So, in historical terms, that's partly why that story was swept away. It's also women's history and queer history, which is often swept away anyway. In terms of now, I suppose that one of the things that I found really powerful about the story is that it is, in a sense, really modern. This is someone who is self-actualizing to a kind of remarkable degree. These are people who are kind of curating their own live in a very modern way. But it's a self-actualization story that makes it very clear that doesn't happen in a vacuum because of all the people around you. The people around you are the catalysts. I think that's exactly what Tom's saying. It happens in a space that's created by love. I think Einar and Lili and Gerda, they were way ahead of it then and there's a lot to be learned from them in that respect.
On working with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.
Tom Hooper: I first worked with Eddie when he was 22, a young kid actor. I was directing "Elizabeth I" for HBO with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. Eddie played a young rebel who tries to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Helen Mirren, never a good idea. Helen Mirren, the queen, sentenced him to his immediate death.
I remember to this day shooting that, the scene where Eddie receives the death sentence, and it was extraordinary because, as I was shooting it, I felt like I was watching someone being sentenced to death rather than watching an actor having a death sentence. There was something about his emotional rawness that was extraordinary. It was almost like an emotional translucency, he was shaking like a leaf. You could see into his heart so directly.
It's funny because English actors are often in dialog with their own emotional reserve. You could say that some of them are emotionally repressed. Not like English directors who have a very fluent contact with their emotional life, as you can tell tonight. This young English actor really stood out to me and, then and there, I thought, if I could ever cast him in a lead role, I will. The next opportunity was "Les Miserables." When I look back on it, his "Empty Chairs, Empty Tables" remains for me one of the highlights of that film, marked again by tremendous emotional rawness. It was on the barricades of "Les Miserable" where I slipped him Lucinda's wonderful script in an unmarked brown paper envelope, on the barricades of French Pinewood Studios. He came back the next morning and just said, look, if you ever get the chance to make it, I'd love to be involved.
And then Alicia Vikander. When you cast Eddie Redmayne, it was intimidating finding the actress to act opposite Eddie because Eddie is so formidable and I'd heard, Nina Gold, my wonderful casting director, suggested that I look at Alicia. I had seen her in "Anna Karenina." I had seen her in "A Royal Affair," where she's a Swedish actress playing a Danish princess. I sort of thought, I'm not going to take five years out to learn Danish before directing the movie in Danish, so casting a Scandinavian Swede who can play Danish and speaks English sounds like a good root for the purists.
She came in to audition. We did the scene, which has a great title in the script. It's called "Scene 56," memorable scene number and that's the scene where Lili and Gerda, Einar and Gerda, have an argument the morning after Einar kisses Henrik. Alicia was so moving in this scene that at end I had tears in my eyes. Eddie Redmayne turned around and said, "There's no great surprise about who you're going to cast now, Hooper." I was like, "No, no, I'm completely objective. I've got lots of notes. I can't think of what they are at the moment."
On gender issues in "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: One could talk about gender fluidity in relation to Lili's character, but Gerda is a strong woman in the '20s saying, I have a right to be a professional artist. I have a right to be openly ambitious, driven, searching for my subject, all of which things are incredibly radical, let's not forget, for a woman in the 1920s. One is reminded, when watching this film, that for centuries, it was men who said to women, this is your gender role. The 20th century was part of this great moment when women started to repossess the definition of their own gender. So, the film to me is an exploration of gender fluidity through both characters.
On keeping smaller films alive.
Gail Mutrux: Two things, one audiences need to keep coming to the movies. In the last few months, you read about all these wonderful movies that have been released and people are staying at home. Part of it is that people put up the money. If they make "The Hunger Games," they know a lot of people are going to come. If they make, for instance, "Room," this small movie, they're not sure. It goes hand-in-hand. It's not about producer's persevering. It's about the people putting up the money for the movies. They're the ones that have to stay in the game.
Anne Harrison: We'll also find other outlets. I love to see a movie, and I hope everyone else here loves to see a movie in a theater, but there are other ways to distribute movies, for example through Netflix or other ways. There will be other ways to get our stories out, but I think it's really about story in the end.
Tom Hooper: I feel cause for optimism in the sense that, I think the studio system gets a lot of bad press all the time for not supporting a range of filmmaking. This is a studio film. This is Focus Features, Universal backed it. On the back of "Les Miserables," I had some box office success with that, I was able to turn to Universal and say, "Actually, this is is the passion project that I've always wanted to make. Will you support me?" They did. Although it's a European subject, effectively, it is a Hollywood movie. I take heart that is, in this case, would in turn embrace both the huge films-- I mean, Universal had an okay year-- but also this, which was made for less than $15 million in a very economic way and they supported it.
On the copies of Gerda Wegener's paintings seen in "The Danish Girl."
Lucinda Coxon: So the portraits that you see in the movie that Gerda did of Lili, we had an artist produce those paintings, you can see that Lili has been tweaked a little more like Eddie, but they are very, very fine copies of Gerda's paintings. Actually, there is a big new show of Gerda's art that just opened in Copenhagen, the biggest ever exhibition of her art, so I'm hoping that lots more people will be seeing those paintings in the future.
Tom Hooper: Lucinda makes it sound a little bit more straight forward than it was. It's actually quite a funny story because I had this kind of, I was very purist. I was like, we must use the original Gerda Wegener paintings. I will not accept anything else. Gail, get me the real paintings, please. About a month before the shoot, these two sat me down and said to me very gently, "You do know that the real Lili paintings, it's not Eddie Redmayne." It was one of those incredibly embarrassing moments where, yes, I'm a purist, but this is a bit of a problem. Rather at the last minitue, we set about recreating the Lili paintings, really trying to copy her paintings, but putting Eddie's Lili in them. They're similar, but not the same. We tried all kinds of short cuts at the time. We tried projecting photos of Eddie, effectively blowing up the Lili paintings over the top in black and white on the canvas and then projecting Eddie over them. In all of these shortcuts, none of the art was very good and it was only, ironically, when we got Suzie, our wonderful painter, to get Eddie to sit as Lili in the conventional way and we did the conventional thing of a portrait artist sitting with a live subject that the paintings actually took off. That's what you see.
On handling Lili's transition in "The Danish Girl."
Lucinda Coxon: I think one of the challenges, certainly in the writing writing is to write a role where you create enough space around Einar for Lili to emerge, to be revealed gradually through the course of the film. In the end, we understand that Lili was always there, really, from the beginning, that she was masked.I think all those kind of touches were laid in. I think when we see him watching Gerda applying her lipstick, it's partially because he loves his wife and admires her and admires her aesthetically, but there is also some deeper kind of identification that we later come to understand, so I think we're always trying to lay it in gently, but, on the other hand, be clear that it was always there.
Tom Hooper: First of all, this was in the script and Lucinda had marked it all out beautifully. I think Eddie and I had worked on this idea that it wasn't a role about transformation, it was a role about revealing or revelation and Eddie sort of prepping and working a year out. We did our first screen test seven months out and Eddie put a lot of preparation into it, but a lot of it was about unlocking his latent femininity, exploring it and then recovering it so that in the film it could be gradually revealed. One of the interesting things that Eddie and I learned from meeting trans women in the community was that sometimes people in transition go through a phase of kind of hyper-feminization, where, in order to reconnect with their female identity, they almost overreach. Their feminine body language become affected. Their clothes become very feminine. They use too much make-up, maybe too strong a wig. We embrace that as a way of Lili getting in touch with this part of her that had been suppressed. At the end of the movie, you'll notice that she goes back to her own hair. Her body language simplifies. Her clothes simplify and she really starts to have the confidence to be herself without trying too hard and without too much adornment.
On involving transgender actors and advisers in "The Danish Girl."
Tom Hooper: We had some great trans women who advised the film, going right back to an early, very inspiring meeting I had with Lana Wachowski, the Hollywood director. In terms of the casting, we had trans extras in London, in Copenhagen, in Brussels and there were two trans actors who played in the movie in small rolls, including a trans woman called Rebecca Root who was playing a cis gender role. We did reach out and try to involve the acting trans community as much as possible.
An astonishing story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The film stars Academy Award winning actor Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, and is directed and produced by the talented Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech" and "Les Miserables"). Lili Elbe is one of the first identifiable recipients of gender confirmation surgery and a transgender pioneer.
"This is a story of authenticity, identity, and courage, but at its heart it is a love story. About the courage that it takes to find yourself -- to be yourself," said Redmayne.
Presented by Focus Features
Directed by Tom Hooper
Rated R / 120 minutes
On the eve of Veterans' Day, KCET Cinema Series hosted a screening of the film "Youth" and held Q&A with actors Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine at Sherman Oaks' ArcLight Cinemas. After the screening, Harvey Keitel reminded the crowd that November 10 is the birthday of the U.S. Marines. Keitel himself was a Marine. Michael Caine, who stars in the film with Keitel, mentioned his own time in the British Army, serving in Korea. The actors' shared military pasts, Caine later says, helped them connect with each other as they played close friends in "Youth."
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino ("The Great Beauty," "This Must Be the Place"), "Youth made its debut at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. In it, Caine plays a conductor named Fred Ballinger who the Queen of England requests to emerge from retirement. Keitel plays Ballinger's close friend, Mick Boyle, a director working with a group of much younger writers on his anticipated new film. Rachel Weisz co-stars as Ballinger's daughter. Paul Dano plays an actor struggling with his career and Jane Fonda makes an appearance as Boyle's muse. "Youth" opens in theaters on December 4.
Sponsored by E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation, the KCET Cinema Series offers its members the chance to see advance film screenings followed by question-and-answer sessions led by Deadline columnist Pete Hammond. The nine-week winter series has already featured the newsroom-centric ensemble film "Spotlight" as well as "Brooklyn," starring Saoirse Ronan, and "Carol," an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's romance novel starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Listen to the entire interview or read a condensed version of Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine's conversation with Pete Hammond below.
This is the second English-language film by director Paolo Sorrentino, and a follow-up to his Academy Award winning film "The Great Beauty." The plot centers around two old friends vacationing at a Swiss Spa, Fred (Michael Caine), a retired composer and conductor, and Mick (Harvey Keitel) a screenwriter. As Mick crafts what may be his last screenplay, Fred is given the opportunity to perform for the Queen.
The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews. It will be released in the USA on December 4, 2015.
Presented by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Rated R / 118 minutes
When wealthy, sophisticated Carol meets a young saleswoman named Therese, the sparks of attraction are immediate. "Carol," the Todd Haynes-directed film due to hit theaters on November 20, takes viewers from flirtation to a full-blown romance that is not without drama. Carol is in the midst of a divorce. Therese, an aspiring photographer, is in a tepid relationship with a young man who wants more than she does.
Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel, originally titled "The Price of Salt" and released under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, "Carol" stars Cate Blanchett in the titular role and Rooney Mara as Therese. Noted playwright Phyllis Nagy, who previously adapted Highsmith's thriller "The Talented Mr. Ripley" for stage, handled the screenplay. The film won Mara a "Best Actress" award at the Cannes Film Festival.
KCET Cinema Series members had the chance to catch "Carol" before its release at Sherman Oaks ArcLight Cinemas on Tuesday night. Phyllis Nagy was on hand to chat with the series' host, Pete Hammond, after the screening.
Sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and James and Paula Coburn Foundation, KCET Cinema Series offers members the chance to see buzz-worthy films prior to their release.
Eilis Lacey didn't choose to leave her home in Ireland for a new life in America, but the young woman at the center of "Brooklyn," the film based on Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name, takes the opportunity to start a new life. Eilis' future is compromised by a pull back to her past and, now, she must find the courage to make decisions for herself.
Adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity," "About a Boy") and directed by John Crowley ("Boy A," "Intermission"), "Brooklyn" brings together themes of immigration, homesickness and empowerment in the story of one woman. Saoirse Ronan, who first earned accolades at 13 for her Oscar-nominated performance in "Atonement," stars as Eilis. "Brooklyn" is scheduled for release on November 6.
Recently at Cinema Series, Ronan and director Crowley appeared at the KCET Cinema Series' screening of "Brooklyn" for a question-and-answer session with series host, and Deadline columnist Pete Hammond. They discussed their own experiences of moving from Ireland to London and how their feelings of homesickness related to the film. Ronan, who was born in New York to Irish parents, also spoke about how the film connected to her own family history.
The KCET Cinema Series is generously sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation. Series' members have the unique opportunity to see the most anticipated films of the season prior to their release in theaters. The winter series is held at the Arclight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks and opened with the newsroom drama "Spotlight" from Open Road Films.
The film is an adaptation by screenwriter Nick Hornby of the award-winning 2009 novel by Irish author Colm Toibin. For Hornby the significance of "Brooklyn" lay in Toibin's ability to capture the human heart, "The way Colm depicts the pain of wanting to be in two places at once, it's a beautiful balancing act -- and it seems to lend itself particularly well to film," says Hornby.
The story takes place in the 1950's when there is a post-WWII wave of immigrants to America in search of prosperity and a new life. We follow a young Irish immigrant who must choose between two men, two countries and two destinies. The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen.
Presented by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by John Crowley
Rated PG-13 / 113 minutes
Sometimes it's the local news stories that carry the most weight.
The movie "Spotlight" portrays an investigative reporting team in Boston who dug up the secrets of their local Catholic archdiocese. The efforts of the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" crew didn't just shake up the church in Boston, it triggered a domino effect that hit cities across the globe as the public learned about widespread child molestation and rape accusations against priests and church efforts to cover up the crimes.
Directed by Tom McCarthy ("Win Win," "The Visitor") -- and with a star-studded ensemble cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams -- "Spotlight" has already made a splash on the festival circuit.
While the newsroom drama won't hit theaters until early November, KCET subscribers had the chance to attend a screening at Sherman Oak's Arclight Theater on October 20 for the launch of KCET Cinema Series' winter series. Sponsored by the E. Hofert Dailey Trust and the James and Paula Coburn Foundation, this edition of the film series features eight weeks of new films, plus a classic James Coburn film, that include Q/A sessions moderated by Deadline reporter Pete Hammond.
For the screening of "Spotlight," Hammond was joined by producer Nicole Rocklin and executive producer Jonathan King, who discussed the insularity of Boston and the themes of journalism and power.
The following is a condensed and edited version of their conversation.