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film review

Start your weekend planning early with The Globe and Mail’s guide to every feature film arriving this weekend, from would-be blockbusters to under-the-radar indies

Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

  • Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
  • Classification PG; 98 minutes


3.5 out of 4 stars

He didn’t play by the rules. He was a self-loathing bully with a personality in disarray. He was a tactless, vain, fame-chasing New Yorker with an out-of-season tan. Remind you of anyone? These are descriptions of bulldog lawyer and controversial power broker Roy Cohn, the deceased subject of Matt Tyrnauer’s jarringly topical documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? The reason we’re getting a documentary about Cohn now is that U.S. President Donald Trump was not only a client of Cohn’s but a protégé. (Can we say apprentice?) (Opens Oct. 4)

First Love

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Directed by Takashi Miike
  • Written by Masa Nakamura
  • Starring Sakurako Konishi, Shota Sometani and Masataka Kubota
  • Classification 14A; 108 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

No one forgets their first Takashi Miike movie. And depending on your vintage, it could be any one of the Japanese filmmaker’s 100-plus productions. For moviegoers who might make First Love their first Miike experience, know that the new film is overloaded with characters, takes its time to rev up and is sweeter than the filmmaker’s excessive reputation might suggest. But in another way, it acts as an ideal gateway drug to the rest of Miike’s filmography, a fine mixture of Yakuza warfare and sloppy humour, with enough outré set-pieces to satisfy the curious and enough warmth to counterbalance the gore. (Opens Oct. 4 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

Human Nature

Wonder Collaborative

  • Directed by Adam Bolt
  • Written by Adam Bolt and Regina Sobel
  • Starring Fyodor Urnov, Antonio Regalado, Alta Charo and David Sanchez
  • Classification PG; 94 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

“When you see something unusual, you automatically assume it’s interesting,” says a microbiologist in Human Nature, a documentary on the science and ethics of genetic editing and engineering. “That’s just how science works.” It may be how science works, but it’s not how filmmaking works. So, while the first chunk of Adam Bolt’s documentary will be catnip for the biochemists, the rank and file Science for Dummies people might find the DNA-coding tutorial DOA. Still, the soundtrack is charismatic and the talking heads are the fun chemistry-teacher types, not the lab-coat introverts. (Opens in Toronto and Victoria on Oct. 4, before expanding theatrically across Canada)

Sometimes Always Never

Hurricane Films

  • Directed by Carl Hunter
  • Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Starring Bill Nighy, Sam Riley and Alice Lowe
  • Classification PG; 91 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

After Alan’s (Bill Nighy) son Michael walks out in the midst of a Scrabble-related argument, never to be seen again, Alan and his youngest son Peter (Sam Riley) must team up to identify a body and subsequently survive the tsunami of emotions that tend to accompany loaded familial dynamics. Fortunately, Carl Hunter’s Sometimes Always Never uses the story of a Scrabble-obsessed man – who believes the game can locate his lost child – as a vehicle for humour, terrific onscreen chemistry, and warm, believable performances by the likes of Nighy, Riley and Jenny Agutter. (Opens Oct. 4)

In the Tall Grass

Courtesy of Netflix

  • Directed by Vincenzo Natali
  • Written by Vincenzo Natali, based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill
  • Starring Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted and Patrick Wilson
  • Classification N/A; 101 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

If you were so compelled, a straight line could be drawn from Canadian director Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 feature debut Cube and his latest, the Netflix-produced In the Tall Grass. Both films focus on strangers bound together by unseen forces; both prove their gore-hound bona fides early on, and both are set in confined spaces that don’t play by the rules of the natural world. But whereas the ultra-low-budget Cube’s lack of resources was a feature, not a bug, In the Tall Grass is a case of unchecked excess – more blood, more jump-scares, more mythology that goes not much of anywhere. (Available to stream on Netflix starting Oct. 4)


Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

  • Directed by Todd Phillips
  • Written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
  • Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz
  • Classification R; 121 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

No to all the frantic discourse. No to the film being put atop a pedestal of any sort. No to the energy we’re collectively wasting on it. No to an okay-but-not-especially-good-and-ultimately-nothing of a movie. No, then, to Joker. If you ever wanted to know about the origins of Batman’s most iconic nemesis, and were not previously satisfied by the material provided in comics, on television, in cartoons, and in three separate feature-film franchises, then Joker is here to ... well, not quite to satisfy you. (Opens Oct. 4)

The Laundromat

The Canadian Press

  • Directed by Steven Soderbergh
  • Written by Scott Z. Burns
  • Starring Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep
  • Classification R; 96 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

God bless Steven Soderbergh, patron saint of upended expectations. When word came last year that the prolific director was making a movie focusing on the Panama Papers financial scandal, it seemed like Soderbergh was returning to the territory of Traffic or Contagion – globe-spanning thrillers that distill huge events into intense, granular dramas. Instead, The Laundromat is more like the raised-eyebrow comedy of The Informant!, but with Meryl Streep subbed in for Matt Damon. (Opens Oct. 4 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Oct. 11 in Edmonton and Vancouver and Oct. 18 on Netflix)

This weekly guide was compiled by Lori Fazari, with reports from Anne T. Donahue, Barry Hertz and Brad Wheeler.