DID YOU READ

A Spirited Q & A With “The Wolf Knife” Director Laurel Nakadate

A Spirited Q & A With “The Wolf Knife” Director Laurel Nakadate (photo)

Posted by on

As a way of celebrating this year’s nominees for the Spirit Awards in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, we reached out to as many as we could in an effort to better understand what went into their films, what they’ve gotten out of the experience, and where they’ve found their inspiration, both in regards to their work and other works of art that might’ve inspired them from the past year. Their answers will be published on a daily basis throughout February.

Ordinarily, one would refrain from mentioning in a piece intended to praise a Spirit Awards nominee that an early trade review of a film counted the number of walkouts that occurred during one of its press screenings. But in the case of “The Wolf Knife,” it may just be the best way to describe the film’s uncompromising nature that drove away some which makes it something worth celebrating for so many others. Of course, Laurel Nakadate has likely become accustomed to such divisive reaction to her work. As a renowned video artist and photographer, her art — currently on display in her first major exhibit at the MoMA PS1 in New York — often deals with the objectification of young women and the politics of sex. “The Wolf Knife” is no exception as it follows two teen girls (Christina Kolozsvary and Julie Potratz) on the road from Hollywood, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee in a style as stripped down as its swimsuit-clad leads.

Shot in 10 days with just two other people on crew using a car that wasn’t Nakadate’s, the production was not one for the timid. Naturally, the film that resulted is similarly brave. While the implication of a nomination in the Acura Someone to Watch category of the Spirit Awards that suggests Nakadate is new on the scene may be a slight misnomer since her debut “Stay the Same Never Change” in 2008 already made that announcement, there is perhaps no more apt nominee, since with her films, it’s hard to look away. Navigating the fragile psyche of girls on the verge of becoming women with equal aplomb as the American landscape that has long been a backdrop of her art, Nakadate may often travel a lonely road, but continues to push boundaries wherever she goes.

Why did you want to make this film?

I was interested in telling a dark and awkward story about teenage girls’ relationships. I think that, in the moment between adolescence and adulthood, there is a complicated window where childhood relationships are tested and out of that testing can emerge an uncomfortable and urgent story. I was really interested in talking about discomfort, beauty and desire. I knew I could make the film, the moment I met the lead actors, when I saw their faces, I knew I could tell the story I wanted to tell.

02032011_WolfKnife2.jpgWhat was the best piece of advice you received that applied to the making of this film?

When I was in grad school, I was lucky enough to take classes with the very gifted photographer Gregory Crewdson. He told us a story about how, early on in his career, he left a note at a woman’s house asking if he could make a perfect circle in the grass behind her house in order to make a photograph. The woman left him a note in return saying something to the effect of “Do whatever you need to do”. I’ve never forgotten this story, and I often marvel at and find comfort in it when I’m up against a massive creative obstacle.

What was the toughest thing to overcome, whether it applies to a particular scene or the film as a whole?

I’d say it way I chose to cast the film. I only cast the two lead actors in advance; the entire supporting cast was found, after I’d arrived in the cities we were shooting. I loved working with all those local people, in the towns we traveled to and shot in, but it was a bit harrowing at times, the uncertainty of knowing whether I would find the correct actor for the part we had to shoot the next day. Some days it was thrilling, the challenge of just going with it, and some days it was very, very, scary. I really learned to trust my gut and settle into the idea that all the pieces would fall together and that chance and fate would be more brilliant and exciting than absolute, pre-planned certainty and traditional casting approaches.

What’s been the most memorable moment while you’ve traveled with the film, either at a festival or otherwise?

On the morning that we shot the final scene of the film, we drove to a baseball field that we’d noticed the night before. The sun was just coming up and Chrissy had to cry in front of that sunrise. I remember her standing there, in her dirty costume, tears welling up in her eyes as an airplane rose across the sky. It disappeared into the sun and then emerged on the other side. In some ways, I feel like making this film was like disappearing into the sun and being lucky enough to emerge on the other side.

What’s your favorite thing about your film that’s been largely uncommented upon?

The production crew was only three members. I wrote, shot, edited and directed the film. Christina, the actor who played “Chrissy” brought on two of her friends from school to serve as sound and productions assistants. I love that it was a challenging shoot and that the three of us managed to produce the film that we did.

02032011_WolfKnife3.jpgWhat’s been the most gratifying thing to come out of this film for you personally?

The film was shot on an extremely modest budget. We had to borrow everything: camera, car, floors to sleep on, swimming pools and living rooms. It was an affirmation of the greatness of friends, trusting the creative process and the idea that if you want to make something badly enough, you will find a way to make it. I suppose that was the most gratifying thing. Humbling too.

Your favorite film, book or album from the past year?

I love Todd Solondz’s “Life During Wartime.” I can’t stop thinking about that film, actually. It sort of destroyed my heart. He’s just so brilliant.

“The Wolf Knife” currently does not have U.S. distribution, but will play San Francisco on February 24th. A full schedule can be found here. The Spirit Awards will air on IFC on February 26th.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

IFC_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

Neurotica_series_image_1

IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

via GIPHY

Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

PL_409_MPX-1920×1080

Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

via GIPHY

Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

via GIPHY

Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

via GIPHY

Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

via GIPHY

Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

via GIPHY

If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.