PILLARS OF THE EARTH - On DemandAugust 11, 2010



On Demand Weekly provides reviews of TV series hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “Pillars of the Earth” on Starz On Demand.

King Henry has no male heir for the kingdom, and the Church doesn’t find a woman leader acceptable. Cue the treachery and unrest of monarchical succession! Is it the Tudors? No, it’s the pre-Tudors, “Pillars of the Earth”. Just say Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) and Rufus Sewell (“Dangerous Beauty”) and I’m there already. “Pillars of the Earth” has them, along with Donald Sutherland, Matthew McFadyen (“Little Dorrit”) and Allison Pill in this British throne-ology.

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MAN ON THE TRAIN - Starring Donald Sutherand & U2’s Larry Mullen Jr.October 26, 2011

MAN ON THE TRAIN - Starring Donald Sutherand & U2’s Larry Mullen Jr.

Tribeca Film

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: MAN ON THE TRAIN (Tribeca Film).


By Chris Claro


In the opening scene of Mary McGuckian’s MAN ON THE TRAIN, a steely-eyed loner steps into a pharmacy in search of pills for a migraine. When the pharmacist denies him the medicine, a gregarious older customer is only too happy to share his pain relievers with the stranger. Undaunted by the younger man’s taciturn reserve and mildly threatening demeanor, the older man invites him back to his house for water to wash down the pills.

So begins one of the most surprising and affecting films of the year, an exploration of two solitary lives and the ways in which they converge. With an understated grace, McGuckian offers a character study of a thief and a professor – each character is nameless – and the impact each has on the other. Slight of story but richly textured, MAN ON THE TRAIN is a mood piece, one that stealthily doles out its characters’ revelations at a deliberate, unhurried pace.


In his first acting role, U2 drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. is the eponymous railroader, rolling into town to set up a bank job with his mates. Mullen is tough to read as an actor; it’s hard to tell whether his quiet, buttoned-up portrait of the solitary thief is based on acting skills or lack thereof. Either way, he acquits himself and does justice to the character as he slowly reveals the layers beneath his reticent deportment.


And then there’s Donald Sutherland. For over fifty years, Sutherland has brought his enigmatic persona to films both great – ORDINARY PEOPLE, DON’T LOOK NOW – and not so – S*P*Y*S, SPACE COWBOYS – etching characters that are often inscrutable and off-putting. But in MAN ON THE TRAIN, Sutherland makes use of his physical stature and booming basso to imbue the professor with a verbose joviality that belies his profound loneliness. Living alone in a shambling old house that seems populated by the spirits of generations past, the sociable academic is thrilled at the idea of having a houseguest, criminal or not. With his piano, his conservatory, and his four empty bedrooms, the professor rattles about the house, tending to his guest’s needs with the enthusiasm of a man welcoming family for a holiday visit.

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VOD Spotlight: U2’s Larry Mullen Jr.January 07, 2012

VOD Spotlight: U2’s Larry Mullen Jr.

Tribeca Film

On Demand Weekly's VOD Spotlight highlights stories from the On Demand industry. Chris Claro interviews U2 drummer turned actor, Larry Mullen Jr. about MAN ON A TRAIN (Tribeca Film). Read our review of the film here.


Larry Mullen Jr. Drums Up Interest On Demand
The drummer from an iconic band talks with On Demand Weekly’s Chris Claro about his cinematic acting debut.


At 50, Larry Mullen, Jr. would appear to have precious few mountains left to scale. Founding member of the internationally acclaimed, universally respected, still-together U2, Mullen has provided the band his steady backbeat for over thirty years. He and his mates have sold over 150 million records, won 22 Grammy Awards, and are esteemed not only for their continued relevance, but their ability to bring light to the world’s ills. But even with all that, Larry Mullen, Jr. had the desire to do something new. The cliché goes that all actors want to be rock stars and all rock stars want to be actors, so just as Elvis, Bowie and Mick did before him, Mullen decided to take a shot at another kind of performance.


The film he chose as his debut, MAN ON THE TRAIN. It’s a remake of the French original, co-starring Donald Sutherland as a lonely professor who befriends a mysterious and taciturn stranger. The two men have a profound effect on each other and the film is an engaging, if obtuse, look at their offbeat friendship. Mullen’s involvement in the project came out of a meeting he had with his friend, the director of the film, Mary McGuckian. Though she encouraged him, Mullen was initially reticent, as he felt acting was “kind of a lead singer thing to do.”

“It’s not a dream a drummer is supposed to have,” Mullen explains. But McGuckian asked Mullen to watch the original MAN ON THE TRAIN, which starred Johnny Halliday, who was considered by some to be the French Elvis. “And he does this film and it’s a hit all over the world,” says Mullen. Halliday’s success acting in the film made Mullen less hesitant about taking the plunge into acting. “I was watching how somebody in your business actually can make that transition without too much embarrassment,” Mullen says.

Mullen was impressed that a novice such as Halliday could score onscreen, and jumped at the opportunity to take a stab at the same role, undaunted by his own lack of training. In fact, Mullen felt that his lack of professional acting skills made performing in the film easier for him. “Having no knowledge or training gave me a get-out-of-jail-free card,” he says, “I couldn’t fall back on technique if I had a problem. I just had to get up and do it again, which I did. Since I didn’t know any better, I wasn’t embarrassed in front of Donald Sutherland.”


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