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What to Watch This Weekend

Bryan Cranston aces his role in 'Wakefield'

Brian Cranston, Wakefiled

Gilles Mingasson/IFC Films

Bryan Cranston as Howard Wakefield in Robin Swicord’s "Wakefield"

New in Theaters:

 Wakefield

After Breaking Bad earned him six Emmys and Trumbo got an Oscar nomination (plus AARP’s Movies for Grownups Award), Bryan Cranston, 61, could do anything he wanted. He chose what may be the year’s weirdest movie, about well-off Manhattan commuter Wakefield (Cranston), who comes home from work one day and hides from his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughters in his garage attic, spying on them through the dusty window for weeks, then months.

In flashbacks (where Cranston’s wrinkles get erased by CG), we discover he’s no nice guy. He seduced his wife by tricking a friend (Jason O’Mara) who courted her into making his move too soon. He plays mildly sick jealousy games in bed with her. Yet his harsh critique of marriage has convincing insights. And though Garner gets few lines, her largely unspoken inner life seems authentic (partly because writer-director Robin Swicord provided an entire second script for what goes on in the house, only you can’t hear the dialogue through the window).

It’s a fascinating experimental film and very literary. Swicord, 64, adapts Pulitzer winner E.L. Doctorow’s story “Wakefield” — which was itself an adaptation of an 1835 Nathaniel Hawthorne story. So intellectuals will love Wakefield, as may highbrow showbiz fans because it’s a tour de force of acting craft. It may not make enough money to catch Oscar attention. But maybe it should.


Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer in 'Snatched'

JUSTINA MINTZ/COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM

Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer in "Snatched"

Still in Theaters:

 Paris Can Wait 

Catch a cinematic ride from Cannes to the Seine in Paris Can Wait, a dreamy, impressionistic romance. Anne (Diane Lane), the glamorous neglected wife of a top filmmaker (Alec Baldwin), gets the grand tour from a wooing Frenchman (Arnaud Viard) who insists she’s cuter than Cannes’ near-naked nubiles: “They’re just Pop-Tarts. You’re chocolate crème brûlée!”  

 Snatched

After 15 years off screen, Goldie Hawn, 71, returns to costar with Amy Schumer in the new mother-daughter comedy, Snatched. But the film, featuring the pair battling bad guys on an ill-fated vacation to Ecuador, isn’t strong enough to allow this sunny star to shine. FULL REVIEW

 Get Out  

A black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) visit the remote home of her creepy parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) in this whip-smart horror film that’s also an unsettling meditation on race.

 Norman

Richard Gere dazzles in his most intriguing role ever: an enigmatic New York fixer who matches disparate people to make improbable business deals. Gere’s title character, wide-eyed and desperate to please, screws his way into our heart even as he infuriates the high-flying Manhattanites who desperately try to elude him. FULL REVIEW

 A Quiet Passion

Cynthia Nixon beguiles as Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies’ portrait of the poet, whose steadfast self-assurance utterly scandalized the upper crust of 19th-century Massachusetts.  

 The Promise

As war rages in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, a medical student (Oscar Isaac) and an American journalist (Christian Bale) battle over a classy Armenian woman (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The three are lovely to look at, but their romantic triangle seems like a pretty appendage on a larger tale of brutal, all-out war.

 The Zookeeper’s Wife

Jessica Chastain stars with Johan Heldenberg — whose heroic character is shortchanged by the title — as the real-life couple who hid fugitive Jews from the Nazis in their zoo compound in Warsaw, Poland. As the couple make selfless choices that place them in increasing peril, director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) constantly ratchets up the suspense. FULL REVIEW


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