Miss Juneteenth and Ammonite
You care about the characters in both films. Reason enough to add a bit of pleasure to a dull day.
Taking place in Ft. Worth, Texas, a single mother, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, encourages Kai, a reluctant 15-year-old daughter to enter the pageant. The ensuing struggle becomes fun to watch on multiple levels as down and out Americans seek a way to make sense out of a confusing life.
Directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, Nicole Beharie plays Turquoise Jones, a former winner of the pageant as noted above. Thought the winner gets a full college scholarship, she had to drop out when becoming pregnant with Kai. Working at a bar and mortuary to pay bills, she clearly sees Kai’s ability to succeed where she failed.
But the problem was that Kai, played smartly by Alexis Chikaeze, had no interest in the contest. She only wanted to be a dancer, and things got worse when finances forced her to wear the old gown previously worn by her mother.
As mom wrestles with a failed relationship with Kai’s father (Kendrick Sampson), the film leaves you rooting that Congress raises the minimum wage. Millions of people like Turquoise and Kai would benefit, and the movie will leave you rooting for both of them.
Though this film isn’t as powerful as last year’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, any movie starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan needs to be seen. Taking place in 1840 on the English Coast, it is based on the fossil hunter Mary Anning.
Ms. Winslet plays Ms. Anning, an acclaimed beachcomber living alone with her mother (Jemma Jones). She is left supporting herself by selling small fossils to tourists. Though her role here won’t replicate her performance in the immortal Titanic (1997), she holds your attention when finances cause her to take in the troubled wife of a wealthy visitor willing to pay handsomely.
As seen in the films Atonement (2007), Hanna (2011), Brooklyn (2015), Lady Bird (2017), and Little Women (2019), there is no actress working today with greater range than Ms. Ronan. Here, she plays Charlotte Murchison, a young woman caught in a troubled marriage. A relationship gradually develops between Charlotte and Mary, where nothing, and I mean nothing, is left off the screen.
Though not everyone will agree, this lesbian relationship had an emotional beauty that defined the entire film. It had a magnetic pull that left me mesmerized. No apology offered.