#WeekendCoffeeShare: $3 Movies and Writing a Story a Day

Morning sunshine! Who’s gonna have a good day today? We are!

Extra shot of espresso for anyone who can tell me which classic Disney Channel series that line is from…

Photo by Arshad Sutar on Pexels.com

Hello, and welcome to another weekend coffee chat! Pull up a chair and have a seat! We have some things to discuss.

First, I’m sure you’re wondering how my writing schedule is going. This week had a minor setback. Having Monday off (Labor Day holiday in US) threw me off my game slightly, but I hope to recover by the time Sunday rolls around because I have a new project to start!

More on that later…

Speaking of Labor Day, did you know last Saturday was National Cinema Day? Yeah, I had no idea this was a thing either, but apparently it’s a way to encourage people to go to the movies during Labor Day weekend, which surprisingly tends to be a slow weekend for theaters. I guess most people prefer to cookout on the unofficial last day of summer. So Saturday, theaters across the country were selling movie tickets for $3. You read that right. $3! I don’t think I’ve ever paid that little for a movie ticket unless I was at the $2 theater, and those theaters usually only show older movies, definitely not new releases.

Like most pandemic-conscious people, I’m still a bit hesitant to go to the movies, opting to wait for the films to come to streaming instead. But since I didn’t have any other plans for my Saturday other than to write and watch tennis, I thought, why not? There were a couple movies I didn’t mind paying $3 to see…

Movie #1: The Invitation

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love myself a good vampire movie (not you, Twilight!), especially one in the classic gothic horror genre. I’m a monster girl. I love monster movies, and vampires are my favorite monsters.

Please don’t confuse that with me wanting to be or date a vampire. Absolutely not! I prefer my boyfriends to be alive.

So it wasn’t a question which movie I would see first…

There’s nothing fantastic about The Invitation. It has your typical vampire romance plot…

Girl meets dark, mysterious, and insanely attractive guy.
Girl quickly falls for him.
Guy reveals his true nature.
Girl freaks the f*ck out.
Girl must decide whether to stay and give herself over to him or get the hell out of there.

I knew what to expect going in. Also, the trailer showed the entire movie in two and a half minutes. We all knew what to expect. Still, this movie had a twist that I was not prepared for.

I won’t spoil any more of the movie than the trailer already has, but I will say, if you haven’t read a particular work of fiction or seen any of its hundreds of film and television adaptations, some subtle and not-so-subtle references may go over your head, for example, the names of certain characters, the name of a particular location in London, the history behind and translation of a specific name.

Someone on social media said it’s like Get Out meets Twilight. And yes, yes. I totally agree, but not Twilight. Another, classic vampire novel.

If you still haven’t figured it out, you’re a lost cause. Just go watch the movie.

While the buildup and reveal were satisfying for me, I did feel this movie didn’t know where to start or how to end. As a writer myself, I’m all too familiar with the struggles of writing a beginning and ending to a story. The beginning of the film is a bit fast paced. We learn that our main character Evie (played by the gorgeous Nathalie Emmanuel) has recently lost her mom and has no other family. She takes a DNA test that was conveniently given to her in a gift box at an event she was working (personally I think this plot point would’ve made more sense if she was adopted). She meets her overeager long-lost cousin, Oliver, who quickly invites her to a wedding in England to meet the rest of the family.

Pause: What Black person in their right mind is getting on a plane to a foreign country BY THEMSELVES with a strange white person they just met? I don’t care if they are family. Nope, we ain’t doing that. Not in the post-Get Out era. Have we learned nothing?? But I guess it wouldn’t be a horror movie if our characters weren’t making dumb decisions.

There was also a scene at the end that, unless it was sequel bait, made no sense to me. Honestly, they could’ve ended the movie three minutes sooner. Have her steal some money before burning the house down so she can buy a plane ticket back home.

Lastly, the best friend, almost a carbon copy of Lil Rel’s character in Get Out, served zero purpose in this movie other than for comedic relief, and she really wasn’t all that funny. Take her character out of the film, and the plot would be exactly the same.

But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching this movie and would happily watch it again when it comes to streaming, if not to see if there were any other references to that particular work of fiction that I missed on the first watch.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Movie #2: Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul

Honk for Jesus was NOT advertised well! I went into that theater expecting to see an entirely different movie from what I actually saw, and I’m sure a lot of people did too. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m gonna warn you now, this is not a knee-slapping, rib-cracking, laugh-your-ass-off movie. You probably won’t even laugh at all. Maybe a snort or two, but that’s it. And that’s not to say that this is a comedy that isn’t funny; it’s not a comedy! Dark comedy? Sure. Tragic comedy? You bet! Pure, dumb, comedic fun? Absolutely not.

And maybe that’s what the filmmakers were going for. Jordan Peele is an executive producer after all, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from the three films Peele has written and directed so far, it’s that you can’t take these movies at face value; they require you to look a little deeper, to think a little more critically to find the subtle message, usually about human nature, that the film is trying to bring to the surface. His movies really force us to analyze ourselves, just as we analyze the characters.

So when I accepted that this was not the comedy I initially intended to see, I watched it as I would any other Jordan Peele film (though this movie was actually written and directed by Adamma Ebo).

Honk for Jesus is about a disgraced pastor (played by a very convincing Sterling K. Brown) of a megachurch who is forced to close the church doors after an all too familiar scandal results in his public shaming and a mass exodus of congregants. A year later, he and his wife (played by Regina Hall) hire a documentary crew to follow them as they attempt to reopen their church in time for Easter.

As I said before, I would consider this film a dark comedy rather than pure comedy, mainly because the scandal that Pastor Lee-Curtis and First Lady Trinitie are dealing with is not something to laugh at. Of course, the pastor denies ever doing something wrong, and the film doesn’t directly say whether or not he’s guilty, but there were a few scenes that confirmed to me that he absolutely did it.

Basketball court…bedroom…

If you’ve seen the movie, you get it.

What I love about this film is that it skillfully shows the hypocrisy of some religious leaders, particularly in the church, without coming off as lecturing or trying to vilify Christianity as a whole. Lee-Curtis is what my pastor would call a prosperity preacher—more concerned with the big house, fancy car, and designer clothes than actually teaching the word of God. Even as he attempts to reopen his church, he makes it about him saving souls rather than God, which is why ultimately, they [SPOILER].

That being said, you can’t simply write him off as your typical hypocritical Christian. That would be completely ignoring the depth Sterling K. Brown’s performance gives to this character. This is a man who struggles with temptation. He desperately wants to be the man he preaches about and presents himself to be every Sunday in the pulpit, but it’s a constant battle with sin, and instead of addressing it, he puts on his mask, puts on his show, and becomes the charismatic preacher that’s garnered him so much fame, forgetting again who saved him and who saved the thousands of people who used to attend his church: God, not the pastor, God.

Regina Hall’s First Lady Trinitie is equally complex. There was a particular gut-wrenching scene when she’s asked why she doesn’t leave, and her answer turns into this very emotional monologue about how this is her husband and her church and she’s worked too hard, and she’d quicker kill him than leave him. And this is the first time we really see Trinitie’s true and raw feelings about this situation her husband’s actions have put her in.

Watching this film, I am reminded of Matthew 23, when Jesus warns against following teachers who do not practice what they preach and care more about being seen and being highly regarded than about showing people the way to heaven.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Matthew 23:12-13 (NIV)

On a lighter note, one of my favorite scenes was when Pastor and First Lady were rapping “Knuck if You Buck” in the car on their way to see their rival pastors’ church. This song came out when I was in middle school and had our 12-year-old little selves in a full choke hold! To this day, I still get a little gangsta (a little crunk) whenever I hear it on the radio, so I was right there in the theater rapping along! Unfortunately, I was the only one. Nobody else heard of this song? Or are y’all “Juju on That Beat” kids? But it could also be that there were a lot of white people in the theater. Nobody wanted to get caught saying the N word. I can understand that.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Story-A-Day September

If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, then you may be familiar with the Short Story A Day May challenge. I participated in it back in 2017. I had so much fun with that challenge and was surprisingly prolific despite having just finished the A to Z Challenge, another month-long challenge that requires a lot of creative energy.

Recently I discovered that they do the Short Story A Day challenge again in September, with the same prompts, for anyone who couldn’t participate in May. It’s a bit too late for me to fully commit to joining the month-long challenge when we’re already a week into September. Fortunately, the challenge host, Julie Duffy, is also doing a fun-sized version of the challenge, where you write a story in a week. Now that, I think I can do. Besides, it’s been several years since I’ve written a short story longer than 2,000 words, the kind I might submit for publication in a literary magazine. So that is my goal by the end of this challenge. For reference, here are the common story lengths:

Micro/Nano: 140 characters-250 words
Drabble: 100 words
Flash Fiction: 250-1,000 words
Sudden Fiction/Short-Shorts: 1,000-2,500 words
Short Story: 1,000-7,500 words
Novelettes: 7,500-17,000 words
Novellas: 17,000-40,000 words
Novel: 40,000+ (but probably around 90,000)

If you’re also interested in participating in the fun-sized challenge, it starts today, it’s totally free, and I think there’s still time to sign up. Click here or click the badge in the side bar for more details on the challenge. If you’d like to join the month-long challenge, click here. You can also click the badge in the side bar (right below the fun-size badge).

Alright, I’ve been talking too much, and I’m sure you have places to be, other coffee chats to join. We’ll end ours here for now, and if you’ve seen or plan to watch The Invitation or Honk for Jesus, do let me know your thoughts. Would you give a similar rating? And will you be joining any story-writing challenges this month? Allow me to shamelessly plug my Morning Inspiration prompts to get your creative juices flowing. Until next time!

Written for Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

—Nortina

12 thoughts on “#WeekendCoffeeShare: $3 Movies and Writing a Story a Day

  1. Wish I’d known about the $3 movies. I’m not a big movie person, but I am a big bargain person 🙂

    I admire people who can do something like the story a day challenge. I’m a fast writer but a painfully slow reviser. Even a 2500-word story takes me about 2 weeks to finish. Maybe I need a challenge like this to force me to get faster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got lucky! I just happened to turn on the news right as they were reporting it and thought “Ooh! Let me find a movie to see!” 😀

      You should try it! I’m enjoying the fun-sized challenge so far. I tend to get debilitating imposter syndrome whenever I try to write anything longer than 1000 words (I think it’s because I often fall into the habit of revising while I’m writing, which can be counterproductive), so breaking the process down into bite-sized pieces has really been helping me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been wondering about both these films. Thank you for the great and honest reviews. May I suggest you check out “Three Thousand Years of Longing” next. I saw it yesterday and I have a feeling you would appreciate it’s beauty and subtlety.

    Liked by 1 person

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