VW's Favorite DVDs of 2010: Shane M. Dallmann
THE CRAZIES (2010, Starz/Anchor Bay)
One of those remakes that proves that they really are worth doing once in a while. Director Breck Eisner's take on the 1973 George A. Romero thriller (aka CODE NAME: TRIXIE) is a ferocious, intelligent and equally bitter look at mass insanity, its effects on the residents of a small town, and the efforts from "above" to cover -- or cleanse -- their mistake.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (and feel free to pre-emptively include THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST) (2009, Music Box)
Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy was unavoidably condensed for the movies -- just how effectively remains a topic of debate for some. But it's the bold, absorbing and utterly fearless performance of Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander which more than earns the film series the right of independent existence.
HOUSE (Criterion, 1977)
For some reason, Toho Studios never included Nobuhiko Obayashi's wild and crazy haunting in their American television packages--if they had, it would have shaken up the Saturday night landscape considerably. Is it a shocker that makes you smile, or is it a comedy that plays for keeps? Whatever it is, it never lets up--and the barrage of innovative, pre-CGI optical effects is truly wondrous to behold today. The less you know about this film going in, the better.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010, Universal)
Though it sank in the box office quicksand between THE EXPENDABLES (for the guys) and EAT, PRAY, LOVE (for the gals), Edgar Wright's adaptation of Brian Lee O'Malley's graphic novel was lauded at Comic-Con for a very good reason: it's one of the most visually inventive and consistently "alive" romantic comedies yet conceived. Pop culture from around the world, video games, music and an array of larger-than-life nemeses make the most of what is actually a simple and charming story.
SPLICE (2010, Warner)
One of the best films David Cronenberg never made. Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody run the gamut from moral debate to parental concern and, inevitably, desperate action when they become responsible for an new (and highly unauthorized) life form (sensitively portrayed by Delphine Chaneac). Even if the narrative eventually gives in to the chaos of plot resolution, the sober script, the carefully allotted shocks and the excellent performances throughout make this a standout thriller courtesy of director Vincenzo Natali.
BONUS: Everybody's going to name the THRILLER box set, no? Count me in as well. Other honorable mentions include KICK-ASS, Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES, Werner Herzog's THE BAD LIEUTENTANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS and HARRY BROWN.