New movies and series to stream, rent, buy: 1917, Seberg, Hollywood, Trying, Brassic

Damon Smith reviews the latest download, streaming and DVD releases including 1917, Seberg and Hollywood

Colin Firth in 1917
Colin Firth in 1917 Colin Firth in 1917


1917 (Cert 15, 119 mins, Entertainment One, War/Thriller/Action, available from May 4 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from May 18 on DVD £21.99/Blu-ray £24.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99)

Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal William Schofield (George MacKay) begin April 6 1917 in peaceful slumber against a tree as thunder rumbles in the distance.

The men are roused to receive orders from General Erinmore (Colin Firth), who must prevent Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) from leading The 2nd Devons into a trap set by the Germans.

"We would lose two battalions – 1,600 men – your brother among them," Erinmore sombrely informs Blake.

The Germans have severed all telephone lines so the only way to warn The 2nd Devons is to dispatch Blake and Schofield on foot into enemy territory.

They must reach Mackenzie before dawn, when the fateful order will be given to attack the line.

1917 is a breathlessly choreographed and nail-bitingly tense thriller, inspired by stories of The Great War told by director Sam Mendes's grandfather, who served as a lance corporal.

The film is shot in real-time in several exquisitely staged single takes, which have been seamlessly stitched together by editor Lee Smith.

It's a tour-de-force of technical daring, which repeatedly dazzles and dumbfounds, juxtaposing heart-breaking brutality and self-sacrifice with moments of dreamy, poetic introspection.

RATING: *****

SEBERG (Cert 15, 102 mins, Radical Chic, Drama/Thriller/Romance, available from May 4 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services)

In May 1968, actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) leaves Paris, her screenwriter husband Romain Gary (Yvan Attal) and young son Diego (Gabriel Sky) to travel to Los Angeles to audition for the role of Elizabeth in Paint Your Wagon.

The flight is interrupted by outspoken black civil right activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), who argues that Malcolm X's widow should be given a seat in first class.

His impassioned rhetoric impresses Jean, who raises a fist in solidarity with the Black Panthers on the airport runway as photographers swarm.

Soon after, Jean becomes romantically entangled with Hakim, who has a wife (Zazie Beetz), which brings her to the attention of FBI agent Jack Solomon (Jack O'Connell) and partner Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn).

Seberg dramatises the FBI's persecution of the eponymous icon of the French New Wave with a disjointed narrative counterbalanced by eye-catching period details.

Director Benedict Andrews fails to hit the mother lode in his opaque drama, which speculates about Seberg's emotional turmoil in the most simplistic terms.

Stewart lays herself physically bare more convincingly than she is able to expose her character's psychological fragility, while O'Connell's conflicted FBI agent embodies the frustration we feel about words left unsaid.


HOLLYWOOD (8 episodes, streaming and available to download from May 1 exclusively on Netflix, Drama/Romance)

In 2018, Ryan Murphy – co-creator of Glee, American Horror Story, Pose and 9-1-1 – signed a five-year deal with Netflix for a reported $300 million to create original content exclusively for the streaming channel.

Lavish eight-part drama Hollywood is the first series to emerge in its entirety from that deal and is a valentine to post-Second World War Tinseltown as seen through the eyes of a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers.

It's a fictionalised account of Hollywood's Golden Age with real-life figures such as actors Rock Hudson (Jake Picking) and Vivien Leigh (Katie McGuinness) woven into the sprawling narrative.

In common with other shows from the Murphy stable, themes of race, gender and sexuality are pivotal to the characters' fortunes.

TRYING (8 episodes, streaming from May 1 exclusively on Apple TV, Comedy/Drama/Romance)

A thirtysomething couple discover the one thing they want in life is the only thing they can't have in an eight-part Apple TV comedy drama written by Andy Wolton and directed by Jim O'Hanlon (Catastrophe).

The series centres on Jason (Rafe Spall) and Nikki (Esther Smith), who plan to spend the rest of their lives together, binge-watching TV series they missed and raising a family.

Fate deals them a cruel blow and Jason and Nikki learn they will not be able to conceive a child together.

Unperturbed, the lovebirds decide to pursue adoption and they work closely with a counsellor (Imelda Staunton) to pass the gruelling interview process with flying colours.

The stress of proving themselves as would-be parents tests Jason and Nikki's relationship and they turn to family and friends for support.

BRASSIC – Season 2 (6 episodes, streaming from May 7 exclusively on NOW TV, Comedy/Drama/Romance)

The six-part comedy drama set in the fictional Lancashire town of Hawley, created by Danny Brocklehurst and lead actor Joe Gilgun, returns with a bang to Sky One this week and streams exclusively on NOW TV.

In the cliffhanger final episode of the first series, bipolar bad boy Vinnie (Gilgun) faked his own death to dodge a grim fate at the hands of vicious gangster Terence McCann (Ramon Tikaram).

Meanwhile, a heartbroken Dylan (Damien Molony) learnt that Tyler, the young son of his girlfriend Erin (Michelle Keegan), whad actually been fathered by Vinnie.

These next instalments are set shortly after the bombshell revelations and explore the repercussions for Vinnie, Dylan and their buddies Ash (Aaron Heffernan), Cardy (Tom Hanson) and Tommo (Ryan Sampson).