God’s Own Country opens in Berkeley on Friday

Working on a farm never looks like much fun, but someone’s got to do it. In God’s Own Country (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Nov. 10) that person is Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a young man who’s stayed behind to take care of his crippled father’s sheep and cattle while his friends have swanned off to university. Needless to say, he’s bitter about his fate.

Johnny drowns his sorrows with binge drinking (followed by spectacular vomiting episodes) and occasional bouts of anonymous sex in the toilet stalls of the local pub. Neither Dad Martin (the legendary, still underappreciated Ian Hart) nor Grandma Deirdre (Gemma Jones) think very much of the lad, but they don’t have much choice in the matter: if he’s not around to do the hard work, everything will fall to pieces.

When Martin hires Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) to help during lambing season, Johnny is unimpressed — until he finds himself attracted to his handsome new co-worker. And Gheorghe makes an impression on Dad, too, who appreciates the young man’s work ethic, care and skill, which stands in sharp contrast to Johnny’s grudging disinterest.

Written and directed by Frances Lee and shot on location near Keighley, Yorkshire, God’s Own Country is not so much a coming-of-age drama as a coming-into-maturity one. Johnny’s slow transition from resentful youth to responsible young man happens slowly but is helped along by one late-night pub assignation too many.

Lee’s film spotlights the raw beauty of the still largely undeveloped Yorkshire moorlands, which in many respects haven’t changed much since the days of Wuthering Heights. It also features uniformly fine acting from its ensemble cast and an excellent score by post-modern composers A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

One of the best films of 2017, God’s Own Country won the audience award at this year’s San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival and now makes its bid for a wider audience. It’s well worth your attention.

Rose Marie’s back story in ‘Wait For Your Laugh’

Rose Marie as seen in Wait For Your Laugh

Those of a certain age – say, anyone over 40 – will probably think themselves familiar with comedienne Rose Marie. Ubiquitous due to her co-starring role in The Dick Van Dyke Show and recurring appearances on The Hollywood Squares game show, Rose Marie was a constant presence on 1960s and ‘70s American television.

Wait For Your Laugh (also opening at the Shattuck on Friday) provides her back story – as well as bringing us all up-to-date on her current activities. Yes, at 94 years of age, Rose Marie is still with us, as sharp as a tack and still looking for showbiz work — her profession since (believe it or not) 1926.

Baby Rose Marie got her start in radio and vaudeville during the roaring ‘20s and never stopped. Needless to say, she has a lot of stories to tell – including the one about working for Al Capone. Punctuated by interviews with her still-living contemporaries (Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Tim Conway and fellow Squares veteran Peter Marshall), this is a terrific journey down memory lane with the feistiest woman this side of Betty White.

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Freelancer John Seal is Berkeleyside’s film critic. A movie connoisseur with a penchant for natty hats who lives in Oakland, John writes a weekly film recommendation column at Box...