Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

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By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Pandemic days tend to blur together into one pajama haze, but things really are changing all around us: Merriam-Webster added 520 new words to its dictionary, including “decarceration,” “silver fox” and a new meaning for “bubble.”

Have a safe and fun weekend.

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This weekend I have … 90 minutes, and I like curiosity and crying

Derek DelGaudio, as seen in “Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself.”Hulu

‘Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself’

When to watch: Now, on Hulu.

This one-man show blends magic and memoir, using techniques designed to distract and misdirect as a way to instead focus the viewers’ attention on their own concepts of self. Few sleight-of-hand artists reduce their audiences to tears, but Derek DelGaudio does so night after night in this filmed version of his stage show; he guesses your card, but he also guesses your card in ways no one can really prepare for. If this time of isolation has caused you to reflect on how you present yourself to the world, and to think about what you get from being beheld, watch this.

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… two hours, and I’m tired of the same old schtick

Elizabeth Carmichael (and a Dale), the subject of the documentary “The Lady and the Dale.”HBO

‘The Lady and the Dale’

When to watch: Sunday at 9 p.m., on HBO.

TV documentaries have fallen into a visual rut with cheesy re-enactments and the same diet-Ken Burns moves, so the inventive animation alone would make “The Lady and the Dale” a worthy endeavor and a breath of fresh air. Luckily, it also tells a fascinating, complicated story: Elizabeth Carmichael was a scammer, a pioneering transgender woman and an automotive industry star who tried to popularize a three-wheel car in the 1970s. “Lady” is divided into four parts; the first two air this Sunday, Part 3 airs Feb. 7, and Part 4 airs Feb. 14.

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… a few hours, and this week I care about stocks (sort of)

Jade Anouka, left, and Sheridan Smith in “Cleaning Up.”Sundance Now

‘Cleaning Up’

When to watch: Now, on Sundance Now.

Sam (Sheridan Smith) needs money. She cleans offices at night, but she is a gambling addict in denial, and she is newly separated from her husband and trying to raise her daughters. So when she stumbles into an insider-trading scheme, it seems like a perfect ticket out of her predicament. “Cleaning Up” has more pep in it than other British dramas, brighter and more fun than a murder show but not as fleeting as a comedy. Five of the six episodes are streaming, and the finale comes out Feb. 4.

Your newly available movies

Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen in “Palmer.”Apple Original Films

HBO Max kicks off a year’s worth of Warner Bros. streaming releases with the disappointing Denzel Washington detective thriller “The Little Things,” and Apple TV+ showcases Justin Timberlake’s dramatic chops in “Palmer.” But our critics are most enthusiastic about “Beginning,” a masterful Georgian Oscar entry about religious persecution and a crisis of faith.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fees between distributors and theaters. Unless otherwise noted, other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. SCOTT TOBIAS

‘Beginning’ (A Critic’s Pick; Mubi only)

Rarely has a film made me so painfully, viscerally aware of the impotence of spectatorship — of the dubious remove from which we watch suffering. — Devika Girish (Read the full review here.)

‘The Dig’ (Netflix only)

To its credit, this consistently interesting and at times engrossing picture declines to strike any of its notes with a hammer. Trading on the great British art of understatement, it’s scrupulous, sober, and tasteful throughout. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

‘The Little Things’ (HBO Max only)

Thanks to [the director John Lee Hancock’s] craft and the discipline of the actors, it’s more than watchable, but you are unlikely to be haunted, disturbed or even surprised. You haven’t exactly seen this before. It just feels that way. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Palmer’ (Apple TV+ only)

If “Palmer” had emerged as Sam’s story, this formulaic film might have found its footing following a mold-breaking character down familiar country roads. Instead, the director Fisher Stevens hews closely to Palmer, a tough guy with a sensitive side who punches people when he feels feelings. — Natalia Winkelman (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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