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On Demand movie highlights

Conan the Barbarian

(Showtime on Comcast) This long, grim, bloody adaptation of the popular Robert E. Howard series was directed with much earnestness and little humor by John Milius, who wrote the episodic screenplay with Oliver Stone. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Conan, a musclebound thug who stabs and slashes his way through life in an imaginary prehistoric age. This is supposedly a comic-book movie for kids, but its blatant glorification of violence make you wonder what sort of kids. Sandahl Bergman and James Earl Jones costar. (R; runs through May 20)

High Fidelity ½

(Starz on Comcast) A sad, funny, brilliant comedy of gloom, successfully transplanted to Chicago from the London of the original novel. It’s driven by John Cusack’s angst-ridden slacker and vinyl junkie who runs a used-record store, has put his life on permanent hold, and can’t figure out why the women in his life regard him with muted enthusiasm. Smashing debut by Danish actress Iben Hjejle, and one of Stephen Frears’s best films. (R; runs through May 22)

Bird on a Wire

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(Encore on Comcast) Charm and cuteness from Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn as a couple on the run from trigger-happy drug heavies. What they can’t escape are the movie’s endless romantic bickering cliches and chase movie formulas. (R; runs through June 5)

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