The unwashed hero
Conan the Barbarian
Captain Video/Lionsgate, Rs 499
It's a pity that whoever will be watching this movie will be forced to compare it with the 1982 John Milius-directed cult classic Conan the Barbarian. For one, part of the fun of watching the old movie is that it looks suitably dated, a prime requisite to appreciate B movies. For another, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the barbarian warrior created by Robert E Howard. But Jason Momoa as Conan isn't half as bad, even though he doesn't have any stand-out scene that we can remember after the movie's over. The hero, instead, is the story itself: a boy born on battlefield who grows up to seek revenge against the killer of his parents with a hint of a hormonal cross-cultural relationship thrown in. The fictional Dark Ages, of course, provide the perfect setting for special effects that are quite superlative and almost make up for the lack of acting prowess -- even of the B movie kind — in the movie. The Freudian twist to the villanious duo of warlord Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) who killed Conan's father and his sorceress-daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) provides some flesh and blood to an otherwise purely visual movie. But I have a sneaking suspicion that over the years, this Conan too will gain in currency. Even though Momoa's unlikely to move on to a Terminator-kind franchise.
Reliance Home Video/Universal, Rs 599
Think Spielberg's Munich, but without the soppiness and extra slick. Shakespeare in Love director John Madden enters the drama-thriller zone with a film that is paced out masterfully. The Debt is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film about three Mossad agents on a mission to capture a Nazi war criminal doctor in East Berlin in the 1960s. The story starts in present day Israel at the launch of a book written by the daughter of two of the agents. The three are national heroes, but there is a secret that they carry that now has started to bother them after years. Helen Mirren plays the troubled woman agent Rachel Singer with dexterity and the film then goes into flashback, retracing what happened in the mission to capture 'The Surgeon of Birkenau'. The three protagonists — played quite brilliantly by Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas — are trapped in a curious and deranging menage a trois that affects all of them. At the heart of the story is the matter of dealing with a lie and then coming to terms with the truth. This is a superb, no-frills must-watch.
Reliance Home Video/PVR Pictures, Rs 599
If romance tinged with a literary streak is your poison, this movie can certainly be your lemon-scented arsenic. Based on the 2009 best-selling novel One Day by British writer David Nicholls, this will probably be mandatory viewing for all Oxbridge-returned Eng Lit ladies hoping for a good cry with their popcorn. The story is about the dorky-sensitive-awkward-pretty Emma Morley (Anna Hathaway) meeting the flamboyant-talented-spoilt-handsome Dexter Mayhew after graduation on July 15, 1988. They spend the night together — but to Emma's disappointment nothing happens and they become friends. The two decide to meet every year on that 'one day'. As we follow Dexter's rise and fall, we also chart Emma's disappointments and joys. Danish director Lone Scherfig clearly loves the Englishness of the subject of her films (although we see much of Edinburgh in the first bits). In her 2009 coming of age drama, In Education, she captured the beginnings of the Swinging 60s through the twists and turns of a 16-year-old schoolgirl. Here she gets the pitch of 90s Britain perfect. It's a gush fest all right. And get ready to take out your hankies in the end.