Bandidas -- This barely-released comedy western doesn't really sound all that hot ... but the leads are Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, so us guys know what we're in for. Sounds a bit like Bad Girls (only this time the jokes are intentional), but with Sam Shepard,Steve Zahn and Dwight Yoakam on board, it sounds just colorful enough to warrant a rental. Weirdly enough, the flick was co-written by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid). Extras include a leading ladies' audio commentary, a featurette and a trailer.
Conversations with Other Women -- One of my very favorite movies of last year. Aaron Eckhart and the seriously awesome Helena Bonham Carter star as a boy and a girl who 'meet cute' at a wedding ... only it sure seems like they once knew each other long ago. Features a split-screen technique that's clever to some and annoying to others, but I think it's one of the most realistically romantic movies I've seen in a long time. Extras include a whole bunch of featurettes.
Crank -- If you liked Running Scared, you'll probably like Crank. If you have no interest whatsoever in action movies that take the laws of physics and twist them into bizarrely tasty pretzels, you will not like Crank. It's about a (rapidly) dying hitman who aims to get one last afternoon of high-end revenge out of his system. Imagine the classic noir D.O.A. did 140 lines of cocaine, and that's Crank. Extras include an audio commentary, some featurettes, a few interviews and a "family friendly audio option," which only partially makes sense because Crank has a lot more "adult material" than just salty language.
Idiocracy -- One of 2006's most overlooked little winners, this one comes from Mike Judge, creator of the insta-cult classic Office Space. Luke Wilson plays an exceedingly average schmo who gets frozen and wakes up 1,000 years later ... as the smartest man on Earth. Not all the jokes fly and the flick feels fairly scattershot from time to time, but there's some really quick-witted and clever stuff in there as well. Judge also does the relatively impossible by making Dax Shepard funny. Befitting the manner in which Fox totally abandoned the film, the DVD extras are limited to a few deleted scenes.
The Illusionist -- It's fun to hear film critics debate the quality of The Illusionist over the similarly-themed The Prestige, but I thought both of 'em were very well-made and eminently watchable. This one (the smaller one) stars Paul Giamatti as a police inspector who aims to expose a turn-of-the-century magician -- but finds the task more than a little difficult. Edward Norton stars, and he's backed up by folks like Jessica Biel and a wonderfully evil Rufus Sewell. Extras include a director's commentary and two featurettes.
The Night Listener -- Still haven't managed to catch up with this one, but it stars Robin Williams as a radio personality who gets involved in the life of a dying kid. No, it's not Patch Adams 2. Toni Collette and Rory Culkin co-star. Extras include a featurette and one deleted scene.
Coming next week: Brothers of the Head, Employee of the Month, Gridiron Gang, The Protector and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.