by Richard Gould
Part three, chapter one of THE HUNGER GAMES came in for criticism last fall for trying to milk every last dollar out of fans, and to be sure MOCKINGJAY–PART 1 is hardly a standalone the way the first two were–if you start here you’ll be lost. But the film’s two-plus hours are anything but filler: This brooding chapter has the internal logic of a series breather, and as a tension-builder for the fireworks to come–it can’t be beat. We join Katniss as she arrives back at the hub of the uprising, District 13, where shadow-like President Coin is marshalling resistance forces for an assault on the capital. To win hearts and minds, the movement needs a figurehead–and Katniss is a natural for the part–but she finds herself put to use in propaganda in ways not unlike Snow’s at Panem. One only hopes the rebellion’s motives are more pure. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Julianne Moore star. Non-Panemaniacs can steer to an equally thrilling cult series from across the pond, the BBC smash SHERLOCK, which has gone to world fame since first airing in 2008; three seasons (nine episodes) are now available on Blu-ray. In this superbly clever updating of the Conan Doyle stories, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the consulting investigator for hire, whose fin-de-siècle spirit is retained even as the detection brings newfangled tech like GPS and text to bear. No fan of the originals will fail to be charmed by Cumberbatch and his Watson, Martin Freeman, who have all the intellectual chops and bravura of the books–along with old favorite nemeses like Irene Adler and Moriarty. A Christmas special is expected this year.