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‘Confess, Fletch’ Director Greg Mottola On How Fellini’s ‘I Vitelloni’ & Kindness Of James L. Brooks & Judd Apatow Helped Light His Path – The Film That Lit My Fuse



The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative influences and inspirations of some of today’s great screen artists.

Every installment asks the same five questions. Today’s subject is Greg Mottola, the Long Island-bred writer and director whose latest film, Confess, Fletch, rebirths the franchises from the Gregory McDonald novels, with Jon Hamm taking the title character originated by Chevy Chase. Mottola made his feature directing debut on The Daytrippers, a well received road trip comedy that starred Hope Davis as a Long Island housewife convinced her husband might be cheating, and heads to New York City to find out. Stanley Tucci, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber and Campbell Scott starred. Mottola made a giant leap in bankability directing Superbad, the raunchy hit comedy that starred Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. He also directed Adventureland, Paul, Keeping Up with the Joneses, and he was EP, writer and director on such series as Newsroom, The Dangerous Book For Boys and Dave. Here, he explains the influences that shaped an indie sensibility, and how challenging maintaining that focus has become.



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Oscar-Contending Documentary ‘Nothing Compares’ Reexamines Sinéad O’Connor, Singer Who “Booted The Door Down” And Paid The Price



When filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson was growing up in Northern Ireland in the late 1980s, she says the whole of the island – the North and the Republic – desperately needed transformation.

“The Troubles were still rumbling on, and the Catholic Church was still very much in power in the South,” she notes. “It was pretty gray and miserable and you just felt like you didn’t have many options and you didn’t have a voice, and abortion was banned everywhere.”

An unexpected voice for those voiceless would emerge in the form of a Dublin singer with an uncompromising presence — Sinéad O’Connor. She appeared on the scene not just to entertain but to challenge.

“She then arrived as like this alien and booted the door down. And we were all just like, ‘Whoa! Hello, who’s this?’” Ferguson recalls. “Just everything about her — the music was so phenomenal. The way she looked was so brilliant and her boldness was just so exciting. And I just think as a country, we needed her. Like, the young ones really needed her.”

Director Kathryn Ferguson attends a screening of ‘Nothing Compares’ September 20, 2022 in Los Angeles
Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Ferguson’s award-winning new film Nothing Compares documents O’Connor’s huge impact not only on Irish but on world culture, and the tremendous backlash she faced for defying norms in the record business and in society. The film hit theaters Friday in New York and L.A. for an Oscar-qualifying run, and becomes available to stream for Showtime subscribers next Friday. It premieres on Showtime’s linear service on Sunday, October 2 and releases theatrically in Ireland the U.K. on Friday, October 7.

The film’s title alludes to the biggest single of O’Connor’s career – the Prince-written “Nothing Compares 2 U.” That song was off her second album, but Sinéad had already become a worldwide phenomenon with her debut record, The Lion and the Cobra, released when she was 21. It contained music she authored in her teens.

“So many of the songs,” the director says, “were written before she was 17. I think the first couple of songs were [written] when she was 14. They’re like diary entries, really.”

The vocals could penetrate ethereally at first, then streak into a yowl.

Young Sinead O'Connor
A young Sinéad O’Connor
Courtesy of Colm Henry/Showtime

“The voice is so powerful,” Ferguson tells Deadline. “And the length of the notes and the fury and the ferocity behind the notes was — I just had never heard it before… It was like a battle cry or something, such a guttural sound that I still haven’t heard from anybody I can think of, really.”

Ferguson sees O’Connor’s voice as deeply rooted in Irish tradition and myth.

“So many of the songs are this cathartic, explosive sound that comes out of her,” she says. “There was something ancient in it that I really recognized, even the banshee; I don’t mean it in like a spooky, ghost-y way, I mean in a folkloric Irish way that’s so embroiled in our history… It made me think about keening as well,” a traditional vocal lament for the dead embedded in Gaelic-Celtic culture.

Perhaps unfortunately for O’Connor, she also happened to be strikingly beautiful, and record industry handlers tried to shove her into a normative feminine mold. F-that, O’Connor effectively responded, and kept her chevelure pared to a short bristle.

Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad O’Connor
Courtesy of Sheila Rock Photography/Showtime

“She very quickly rubs up against the record label who wants her to grow her hair and dress up pretty,” Ferguson points out. The film includes multiple clips of TV interviewers on both sides of the Atlantic (including Charlie Rose in New York) who appear flustered over O’Connor’s decision to dispense with long hair.

“It caused such a ruckus for so long and for so many years,” Ferguson notes. “She just felt to be taken seriously, she needed to almost strip everything back. I also don’t even think it was nearly as big a deal to her as it was for everybody else. I think she was like, I want to shave my head. It was a look that she liked.”

That “controversy” was nothing compared to what awaited O’Connor when she started openly condemning the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland. As the film explores, she had grown up physically and emotionally abused by her mother, and attributed her mother’s dysfunction to the distorting effect of Catholic teachings. A priest describes the atmosphere suffocating Ireland at that time, when Church and state were inextricably tied.

“The Church influenced everything. If it was a sin then it was against the law of the state,” Fr. Brian D’Arcy notes in Nothing Compares. “So, divorce, contraception, and anything that didn’t agree entirely with a very narrow view of the Catholic Church, it was simply not allowed.”

Sinéad O'Connor performs in 1998
Sinéad O’Connor performs at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., June 27, 1998
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage

O’Connor rebelled against that and didn’t hesitate to use her platform to call out wrongs.

“There’s a tradition among Irish artists of being agitators and activists – whether they’re playwrights or poets,” O’Connor says in a contemporary interview played as voiceover in the film. “An artist’s job is to create the difficult conversations that need to be had.”

As anyone around at the time will remember, O’Connor was booked as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live on October 3, 1992. She performed an a capella version of the Bob Marley song “War,” intending it to send a message against racism and to highlight the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. At the end she took out a photo of Pope John Paul II – an image her mother had posted onto her wall — tore it into pieces and urged, “Fight the real enemy.”

The provocative gesture triggered an immediate and angry response. The Catholic League attacked her. Someone hired a steamroller to crush her CDs in New York. The context is important. O’Connor’s denunciation of pedophilia in the Catholic Church came almost a decade before the sexual abuse scandal broke into public discourse. She was, therefore, well ahead of her time. Small comfort, given the vitriol she faced.

'Nothing Compares' poster detail

“You can actually hear audible gasps in the [documentary] audience when you get to that backlash because it feels so violent and so absurd. The ferocity of it is unbelievable,” Ferguson says. “You just think, what was it that was causing such a reaction? Like, a 24-year-old girl from Dublin that is just causing such reaction. Steamrollers in Times Square. I mean, it’s just ridiculous is what it is.”

Even fellow pop star Madonna condemned O’Connor. She faced further recriminations after criticizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and on an earlier occasion for refusing to perform at a concert in the U.S. if the event was preceded by the playing of the National Anthem. By then, she had all but disappeared as a pop icon. And that was okay with her.

“They all thought I should be made a mockery of for throwing my career down the drain,” O’Connor says. “I never set out to be a pop star. It didn’t suit me being a pop star, so I didn’t throw away any fucking career that I wanted… I wasn’t sorry, I didn’t regret it.”

Sinéad O'Connor performs in 2020
Sinead O’Connor performs in Italy in 2020
Mega Agency

If O’Connor seeks any vindication, she can look to a radically changed Ireland, one she helped bring about. Marriage equality became part of the constitution in 2015. In 2018, the Irish public voted overwhelmingly to overturn a ban on abortion. That same year, Pope Francis visited Dublin and apologized for what he called “crimes” committed by Ireland’s Catholic Church.

The documentary is part of a reevaluation of O’Connor, now 55. She’s at last being celebrated for fearlessness that, decades ago, led to her public repudiation. As singer and feminist activist Kathleen Hanna puts it in the film, “Sinéad O’Connor as an artist forged her own path in a world that just was not ready for her… She did not deserve what she got.”

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‘Marlowe’ Review: Liam Neeson Is The Old-School Gumshoe In Neil Jordan’s Frisky Noir Pastiche



World-weary gumshoe Philip Marlowe has been played most famously by Humphrey Bogart but also by James Garner, Elliott Gould, Robert Mitchum and sundry others. Enter Liam Neeson, 70 this year but still apparently capable of disabling five assailants at once with the right small arms and some smashable furniture in Marlowe, Neil Jordan’s frisky film noir pastiche. He’s in tough company. He also has a tough crowd – film noir purists, who are legion – to please.

The year is 1939; the setting is old Hollywood, though the film actually shot as an Irish-Spanish co-production in Barcelona. Marlowe is commissioned by Clare Cavendish (Diane Kruger), a dame who could cut diamonds with her teeth, to find her missing lover. Nico Petersen (François Arnaud) is – or was – a prop master at a film studio, making regular trips to Mexico to buy cheap ornaments that are a literal cover for the drugs he deals in the bowels of an ostensibly classy casino. The police say Petersen has been murdered. Mrs. Cavendish thinks not. Not so far, anyway.

Everybody wants something on somebody else, says Marlowe at one point. There are a lot of everyones here, swapping Mickey Finns and barbed one-liners; just try to keep up. Mrs. Cavendish’s mother Dorothy (Jessica Lange), a former movie star, may or may not be her daughter’s love rival – not just for the missing man but for her own business partner and for Marlowe too, if either of these gals can swing a date. In the meantime, she tries to commission him as well. And she isn’t the only schemer trying to get Marlowe on the payroll; there’s a lot of money in this town, most of it filthy.

So what about this Marlowe? Lines like “I’m too old for this,” panted in the middle of a fight, draw an appreciative chuckle from audiences, but Neeson is wearing pretty well. He can still run convincingly and has a neat way of bashing in a pane of glass with his elbow that tells you he’s done this kind of thing before. Obviously, Neeson is also his own genre. Inevitably, he brings the trappings of that genre with him, right into the heart of film noir: even in Bogie’s raincoat, he is recognizably the action guy from Taken, impassive of face and firm of fist.


So he isn’t Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, to the chagrin of some viewers, but Jordan’s film isn’t Chandler either; it is based on The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black, the thriller writer who in real life is the Irish literary author John Banville. Read it as a commentary on the genre – a kind of meta-text studded with references most film-goers will pick up easily – and it all falls into place. The pacing, the use of light and the characters are illustrative: this is a film about film noir rather than the thing in itself.

It isn’t the first Marlowe film in color, but Jordan takes his color to the max, saturating it in golden light – sunshine outside and the glow of lamps inside – and then playing with that light, reflecting it from multiple mirrors, patterning entire scenes with stripes of shadow cast by Venetian blinds and sometimes peering through the refractions created by two windows in alignment. Similarly, the costumes could come from a “noir” dressing-up box. Neeson has the raincoat; Kruger has crimped bleached hair that, if nothing else, marked her out as a Bad Egg; Arnaud wears a matinee idol’s louche pencil moustache.

A good deal of writing about film noir of the ‘30s and ‘40s delves into its resonances in a world wracked by economic depression and the threat – followed by the horrible reality – of war; it is seen as a theater of anxiety. The modern parallels to those saber-rattling times are easy enough to draw, but nobody should take Marlowe too seriously. Any film featuring Alan Cumming as a gangster, so decadently and fabulously camp he seems destined to die in a frosting of pink bullets, is hardly aiming at streetwise realism.

Nor does it bear too much comparison with classic cinema, but does that matter? Marlowe isn’t perfectly hard-boiled, but it isn’t scrambled either. It’s fun and it’s fast: Information and wisecracks are packed into every minute of every scene to the point of giddiness. Casting is inspired across the board, including those actors whose accents veer dangerously towards Dublin – because what could be more redolent of old Hollywood than the echoes of exile? The sunshine is glorious, the palm trees reach the sky, ice cubes clink in crystal glasses and anyone – actually, in this story, pretty much everyone – can get away with murder. You might as well enjoy it.

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‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Clip: Meet The Suspects In Daniel Craig-Led Rian Johnson Sequel



Daniel Craig’s super sleuth Benoit Blanc is back on the case in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Writer-director Rian Johnson also returns for more finger-pointing fun as the suspects are revealed in a new Johnson-intro’d clip — watch it above.

As the Star Wars: The Last Jedi filmmaker describes, the mystery begins when a group of old friends all receive an unexpected invitation in the form of an intricate puzzle box. But what starts as a game turns into something much more nefarious.

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Here’s the message they receive from Miles (Edward Norton) upon opening said box: “My dear friends, my beautiful disruptors, my closest inner circle: We could all use a moment of normalcy, and so you are cordially invited for a long weekend on my private island where we will celebrate the bonds that connect us, and I hope you puzzle solving skills are whetted.


“Because you’ll also be competing to solve the mystery of my murder,” it adds.

Toronto Review: Rian Johnson’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’

Inspector Blanc admonishes, “Ladies and gentlemen, this invitation is not to be trifled with.”

Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline also star.

The film premiered at Toronto this month and will hit Netflix later this year.

‘Glass Onion’ Cast Played Murder Mystery Games Off Set, But Daniel Craig Is No Benoit Blanc — Toronto Studio


Netflix paid more some $450 million in March 2021 for two-sequel rights to the 2019 hit whodunit Knives Out. It remains among the biggest streamer movie deals ever,

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