STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORD
For Digital First Media
In “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” the action picks up right where “Part 1” ended, with our heroine (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from an assassination attempt engineered by the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and preparing for her final showdown with President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
On the way to the Capitol, Katniss and fellow rebels (Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer) must sidestep booby-trapped “pods” capable of unleashing fire, bullets and waves of oil. And, of course, Katniss picks up her bow and arrow, and proves, once again, how capable she is at hitting the action movie bullseye. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming Services
Victor Frankenstein: Just as Guy Ritchie reanimated Sherlock Holmes so director Paul McGuigan tries to give Mary Shelley’s 200-year-old tale the spark of life. After transforming a circus freak (Daniel Radcliffe) into trusty sidekick Igor, Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is determined to make a dead man come alive, running afoul of the law in the process. The movie is at its best when it looks at the odd-couple friendship between the mad genius and the innocent misfit. Too often, though, the film feels like a special effects reel with pandemonium substituting for storytelling prowess. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
• • •
Flowers: Three Spanish women (Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Ituno, Itziar Aizpuru) whose lives are lonely and unfulfilled wind up finding a strange kind of peace thanks to a few mysterious bouquets of flowers. Discovering the plot twists of this lovely tale are part of the fun so, without venturing into spoiler territory, the action begins when the unhappy Ane (Aranburu) begins receiving gorgeous flowers from an anonymous stranger. Bittersweet without every becoming squishy, “Flowers” is a delicate drama that delivers affecting performances and plenty of healing warmth. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
• • •
Don Verdean: For his latest comedy, “Napoleon Dynamite” director Jared Hess pokes fun at hypocritical bible thumpers. Sam Rockwell stars as Don Verdean, a fraud of an archeologist who, at the behest of an ambitious pastor (Danny McBride), tries to pass off fake artifacts as sacred relics. “Don Verdean” is wildly uneven but it’s so bizarre, with so many strange twists and turns, that it winds up yielding lots of laughs. The plot is largely an excuse to trot out some very funny characters, including a Jewish con artist (Jemaine Clement) whose idea of the good life is a Pontiac sports car, and a minister (Will Forte) who sees Satan everywhere, even in breakfast cereal. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
• • •
Fifi Howls From Happiness: Dubbed “the Persian Picasso,” openly gay artist Bahman Mohassess fled Iran following the 1979 Revolution, destroying many of his own works in the process. Filmmaker Mitra Farahani tracks Mohassess down to a small hotel in Rome where he discusses his paintings as well as the censorship that led to the Iranian government literally putting underwear on his nude sculptures. Annoyingly, Farahani fails to sketch in the details of Mohassess’ background but she does manage to throw a spotlight on a man who was, until his death at the age of 79, an unapologetic iconoclast. On Fandor.
• • •
Spy: All praise Melissa McCarthy. The actress who notched a breakthrough with “Bridesmaids” is hilarious as a desk-bound CIA analyst who takes over a field operation involving a missing nuclear bomb and a devious Bulgarian arms dealer (Rose Byrne). There’s just enough plot to give this espionage yarn narrative force but not enough to get in the way of the laughs. And there’s plenty of laughs thanks to McCarthy’s competition with a fellow agent (Jason Statham), her verbal sparring with Byrne, and her inspired physical shtick. On HBO Now.
• • •
Little Man Tate: In the wrong hands, the tale of Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd), a child genius torn between his working-class mother (Jodie Foster) and egghead mentor (Dianne Wiest), could have been an earnest movie-of-the-week. But Foster, who made her directorial debut with this little-seen gem, gives the simple story a wonderfully funky spin. Endowed with good humor, warmth and surprises, “Little Man Tate” is the kind of modest yet sparkling charmer that deserves to be re-discovered. On Amazon Prime and Hulu.
• • •
The Last Treasure Hunt: Oliver (Casey Nelson) and Lucy Sinclair (Kate Murdoch) were raised by an eccentric single father with a penchant for elaborate treasure hunts meant to entertain and inspire his children. When their father unexpectedly passes away, the siblings return home to find that, instead of a traditional will, he’s left them a final call to adventure from beyond the grave: one last treasure hunt. Get ready for what is being billed as “a funny and touching tale of siblinghood, which captures the struggle and the joy of family … and an unforgettable picture of love, loss, and forgiveness.” On Amazon, Google, iTunes, Vudu and DirecTV.
• • •
The Decline Of Western Civilization: Penelope Spheeris’ documentary series about Los Angeles’ punk and heavy metal scenes is essential viewing for anyone interested in rock star excess. In the original film, Spheeris supplies a front-row seat to the mosh pits of unruly punkers like X and Black Flag. In the follow-up “The Metal Years,” she provides a showcase for over-the-top characters like Lemmy from Motorhead and WASP guitarist Chris Holmes, who famously discusses his alcoholism as his worried mom looks on. On Fandor.