By the time Laurel Nakadate’s The Wolf Knife premiered, in 2010, Nakadate was already known as one of the most provocative and ambitious video artists in New York. Her fearless short films of unglamorous, middle-aged bachelors and the youthful filmmaker herself dancing to Britney Spears, stripping, or singing over a birthday cake, were “incredibly twisted,” as Jerry Saltz put it in the Village Voice. The Wolf Knife, Nakadate’s second feature film, is the daughter of this early work, and inspires similar creepy feelings about desire, domination, and voyeurism. It is also a significant artistic leap forward. Unsurprisingly, the film received nominations for an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Independent Film Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” Also unsurprisingly, the film has provoked some viewers to walk out within the first fifteen minutes of a screening. Variety called her “an interesting, infuriating artist” and wondered whether many people would be “willing to withstand what she has to say,” but then grudgingly admitted the film was worthy of respect. At the very least, one might call the film “uncomfortable.” Or one might dub it, as the New Yorker did, “a neorealist version of a Lynchian nightmare.”
more from Deb Olin Unferth’s intro and a link to watch the trailer at The Believer here.