What’s on TV Thursday: ‘1917’ and ‘Unorthodox’

What’s on TV Thursday: ‘1917’ and ‘Unorthodox’

1917 (2019) Rent on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. “1917” may not be the most obvious candidate for at-home viewing, given the emphasis it puts on technical wizardry, but those who missed this ambitious World War I drama from Sam Mendes when it was on the big screen can now rent it from many online platforms. Set in April of the year it’s named for, “1917” stars Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay as a pair of British soldiers sent on a dangerous mission to deliver a message to troops on the front line. Their journey, shot by Roger Deakins (who won an Oscar for his cinematography), is made to look as if it were filmed in a single long take. “The round-faced Chapman brings loose, affable charm to his role, while MacKay, a talented actor who’s all sharp angles, primarily delivers reactive intensity,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The New York Times. “This lack of nuance can be blamed on Mendes, who throughout seems far more interested in the movie’s machinery than in the human costs of war or the attendant subjects — sacrifice, patriotism and so on — that puff into view like little wisps of engine steam.”

UNORTHODOX Stream on Netflix. A young woman leaves her Hasidic Jewish family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to pursue a non-Orthodox life in Berlin in this four-part series, which is based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by Deborah Feldman. Directed by Maria Schrader, the series casts Shira Haas (a star of the Israeli TV drama “Shtisel”) as Esty, whose journey, modeled after Feldman’s, offers both self-discovery and thrills, as she tries to outrun her past — sometimes in the literal sense.

KILL CHAIN: THE CYBER WAR ON AMERICA’S ELECTIONS (2020) 9 p.m. on HBO. In the Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary “Hacking Democracy,” the filmmakers Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels presented evidence for the unreliability of electronic voting machines. This new doc, directed by Ardizzone, Michaels and Sarah Teale (an executive producer of “Hacking Democracy”), follows the Finnish computer expert Harri Hursti, who makes the case that America’s election systems are still critically vulnerable. “The problem is,” Hursti says early on, “once you understand how everything works, you understand how fragile everything is, and how easy it is to lose this all.”

MALCOLM X (1992) 8 p.m. on TCM. A couple years after collaborating on “Mo’ Better Blues,” Denzel Washington and Spike Lee joined forces again for this three-hour biographical drama about Malcolm X, played here by Washington. Based in part on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” the film chronicles Malcolm X’s life before and during his time as a civil-rights leader. “Spike Lee has attempted the impossible and almost brought it off,” Vincent Canby wrote in his review for The Times in 1992. “His new ‘Malcolm X’ is not exactly the equal, or even the equivalent, of the book, but it’s an ambitious, tough, seriously considered biographical film that, with honor, eludes easy characterization.”

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