All the Little Things (2021): Denzel’s Detective Magic and a Side of Twisted Humor


Hey there movie buffs and Denzel Washington fans! If you’re like me, you can’t resist a good Denzel flick. And in 2021, he delivered once again with “All the Little Things,” a thriller that’s equal parts gripping and quirky. Trust me; this one’s got all the little things (pun intended) that make a movie worth watching.

The Plot:

So, what’s the scoop? Denzel plays Joe “Deke” Deacon, a retired detective with a mysterious past that haunts him. When he teams up with the talented and enigmatic Rami Malek (playing detective Jim Baxter), you know you’re in for a wild ride. These two guys couldn’t be more different, but that’s what makes their partnership so intriguing.

The story kicks off with a series of gruesome murders that bear a striking resemblance to a case Deke worked on years ago. And wouldn’t you know it, the prime suspect is none other than Jared Leto, who’s perfecting the art of playing creepy characters. His character, Albert Sparma, is equal parts chilling and oddly charming, a combination that keeps you guessing throughout the film.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that “All the Little Things” takes you on a rollercoaster of suspense, twists, and turns. It’s like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle while blindfolded – you think you’ve got it figured out, and then, surprise! Another piece doesn’t fit.

The Cast:

Denzel Washington, the man who can do no wrong in Hollywood, shines in his role as Deke. His grizzled detective persona is a sight to behold, and you can’t help but root for him, even when he’s facing demons from his past.

Rami Malek, fresh off his Oscar win, is excellent as the young detective trying to make a name for himself. His chemistry with Denzel is spot on, and their banter provides some much-needed comic relief amidst the tension.

And then there’s Jared Leto. Leto’s portrayal of Albert Sparma is downright eerie. You’ll find yourself simultaneously repulsed and captivated by his character’s unpredictability.

All the Little Things You’ll Love:

While “All the Little Things” is primarily a thriller, it’s sprinkled with moments of dark humor that catch you off guard. It’s like the filmmakers knew we needed a chuckle to relieve some of the tension.

The movie also explores themes of obsession, guilt, and redemption, making it more than just a run-of-the-mill crime drama. It’s a psychological thriller with a heart.

In the end, “All the Little Things” delivers a satisfying, if not slightly disturbing, conclusion that leaves you thinking about it long after the credits roll.

So, grab your popcorn, turn down the lights, and prepare for a Denzel Washington masterpiece that’s as perplexing as it is entertaining. “All the Little Things” is a wild ride you won’t want to miss – just remember to lock your doors after watching. Jared Leto’s performance might give you the creeps for a while!

Designing the Ultimate At-Home Movie Experience: A Comprehensive Guide


Here is a special guest post written by Chelsea Lamb at Business Pop!

The allure of a movie theater is undeniable, but with the right setup, you can create an equally enthralling movie-viewing experience at home. This article will guide you through the process, providing tips on everything from selecting the ideal TV to setting up versatile lighting for the perfect ambiance. Let’s dive in and convert your living room into a personal cinema.

Selecting the Ideal TV or Projector

When it comes to visual experience, choosing the right TV or projector is crucial. You’ll want to invest in a high-resolution device that supports HDR (high dynamic range) for the best color quality. The size of the TV should be proportional to your room size to ensure optimal viewing.

A projector, on the other hand, can provide a more cinema-like experience. It can project images onto a large screen, replicating the feel of a movie theater. However, you’ll need to consider the room’s lighting conditions as projectors work best in darker environments.

Investing in Top-Notch Surround Sound

Sound is just as important as visuals in creating the ultimate movie experience. A good surround sound system can make a world of difference. It brings the film to life by immersing you in the audio, making you feel like you’re part of the movie.

The placement of speakers is crucial to achieve the best sound quality. Ideally, speakers should be placed around the room to distribute the sound evenly. Consider investing in a 7.1 surround sound system for a truly immersive experience.

Ensuring Comfortable Seating

Comfort is key when setting up your home theater. Opt for plush seating that provides good back support and is comfortable enough for long movie sessions. Stadium seating can add an authentic touch, and building a tiered seating structure is relatively simple with a framework of joists.

Also, remember to arrange your seats in such a way that everyone has a clear view of the screen. You don’t want anyone craning their necks or squinting their eyes to catch the action.

Setting Up Versatile Lighting

Lighting sets the mood for your movie-viewing experience. For the best ambiance, install lights that can be dimmed or turned off completely during the movie. You can also consider adding accent lights that can be controlled separately to create different moods. Remember, if you’re using a projector, the room needs to be dark for the best picture quality. So, make sure your lighting setup allows for this.

Finding Film Suggestions and Critiques

Finding the right movie to watch can sometimes be a challenge. Reel Review can be a great resource for movie suggestions and critiques. You’ll find in-depth reviews and recommendations to help you choose the perfect movie for your at-home movie night.

Strategically Positioning Furniture for Optimal Viewing

The placement of furniture plays a significant role in the viewing experience. Arrange your seating in such a way that it faces the screen directly. Also, ensure there’s enough space between the seating and the screen for comfortable viewing.

If necessary, rearrange other furniture pieces to prevent them from obstructing the view. Remember, the goal is to create a dedicated space where everyone can enjoy the movie without distractions.

Enhancing Home Value with an Outdoor Movie Area

An outdoor movie area can be a unique addition to your home, potentially enhancing its value. It provides a refreshing change of scenery and can be a hit during summer nights. All you need is a portable projector and a white sheet or an inflatable screen. Be sure to keep track of any work you have done and save receipts to quantify your home’s value increase.

Preparing Some Delicious Snacks

Lastly, no movie night is complete without some delicious snacks. Try experimenting with different recipes. This can make the experience more fun and interactive, and who knows, you might discover a new favorite snack!

Designing the ultimate at-home movie experience involves careful planning and attention to detail. But with the right equipment and setup, you can create a cozy, immersive cinema right in your living room, and you may even boost your home’s value with an outdoor movie space.

Positive Transformation: Turning Your Passion Into a Business


Happy 2022 family!

Are you getting started on those New Year resolutions? After thoughtful reflection, I wanted to share this lovely guest post by Chelsea Lamb to help you truly pursuing your passions this year.

In 2017, a Gallup poll found that over 85% of Americans were unhappy with their job. It’s not uncommon, then, for the average American to give up something they love so they can attain a better living for themselves and their families. But in the year 2021, all that may change as a shift in business practices gives us more spare time, greater flexibility and therefore new opportunities to pursue a fulfilling line of work. If you’re willing to put in the extra hours and change up your routine, then it might be possible to pay the bills doing what you love with these tips:

Time Management

If you’re serious about pursuing a passion professionally, your first step should be a change to your time management habits. With the advent of remote working, many of us have recouped time that would ordinarily be spent commuting. To make good use of these extra hours, you’ll want to hold yourself accountable with a useful app. Most of the available time management software are desktop and phone compatible, meaning you can calculate your efficiency, schedule shifts, and cut down on procrastination even when you’re on the move.

Pursuing a dream whilst working a steady job can be tough but plenty have done it before –  award-winning director James Cameron used to work as a truck driver, writing his scripts during pit stops and Beyoncé once worked on a salon floor singing to customers. Multi-tasking is a learned skill and whether you’re an aspiring artist, film director, or musician, learning to work whilst you work is necessary if you want to pursue your passion and keep on top of the rent.


If you’re transitioning to a new career path, it’s normally a good idea to start with a qualification. Fortunately, with the availability of educational content and online courses, acquiring one is more straightforward than ever. Online learning platforms like Udemy or EdEx provide a fully virtual experience so that, regardless of where in the country you’re based, you can access their resources and learn new, practical skills or pick up niché credentials to help you apply for new roles.

Alternatively, you might be interested in taking up a full degree course. Believe it or not, these can also be accessed and earned virtually, from a remote location. Some students are currently studying for a Bachelor’s in addition to working a full-time job (although this is an incredibly time-intensive lifestyle). Remember to take extra care when signing up for long-term online courses as the lack of physical accountability has given rise to some scam imitators.

Founding a Business

If you’re confident in your idea, your ability, and your knowledge of a chosen field then you might consider starting a business of your own. This is by no means a small undertaking and, on average, the costs for establishing a company are around the $30,000 mark. You’ll also likely be sacrificing time spent working with a stable income and some of the key benefits that come as a full-time employee. Make sure you’ve asked yourself the important questions before embarking. Are you willing to work harder than currently? Do you have the personal funds to risk? And, crucially, how will a drastic change in profession affect your closest relationships?

If you’re interested in forming a business, it’s a good idea to start thinking about the form it will take. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) will reduce your personal liability, grant tax advantages, while helping you to establish early credibility. Although it’s possible to do this on your own, a service like ZenBusiness can help you save on lawyer fees and make formation easier by helping you to navigate any state regulations.

The good thing about a passion is it will usually speak for itself. Our strongest ambitions are often accompanied by a little voice that’s impossible to ignore. All you need is the willingness to listen and the work ethic to turn a dream into reality.

Until next time,


3 Ways to Fight Symptoms of Burnout

Blog, Lifestyle
Image via Unsplash

Guest post by Chelsea Lamb at Business Pop

Audio version here:

Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high, with the pandemic exacerbating unprecedented widespread mental health issues. Add the everyday stress of trying to run and grow a successful business, and it’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed. Fight the symptoms of burnout using these tips:

Combat Dread First Thing

Many people suffering from burnout wake up with a feeling of dread on workdays but begin their day by picking up their phones and checking their email. While this may feel like a productive thing to do, you’re missing an opportunity to get your day started off on a positive and mentally healthy foot.

Instead of picking up your phone and immediately giving your life over to the demands of others, take some time first thing in the morning to connect with yourself and charge your battery for the day. Take ten minutes to practice mindful meditation or go for an early morning walk. Pay special attention to your body as it gets used to being awake for the day, feeling grateful for everything that it does for you. Spend time thinking of the positive things in your life, even in these stressful times, that you are grateful for.

Fight Exhaustion by Optimizing Breaks

It’s tempting to spend workday breaks scrolling on your phone, but much of work duty is frequently spent looking at screens. When you’re tired at work, spend your breaks doing activities that help rejuvenate you and give your brain a break.

Instead, consider engaging your body. Lack of movement throughout the workday is hazardous to your health, but even small movements and exercises can help reduce the harm done to your mind and body by the ceaseless sitting that work can entail. Consider a regular walking lunch, and devote 30 minutes every day to moving. If you want more, try running instead. Whatever you choose, invest in a fitness tracker or smartwatch with a swanky band to enhance motivation and help you track your progress. 

Dehydration can also contribute to exhaustion, so drink water during your breaks to give you more energy and boost your mood. Vitamin deficiencies can cause you to feel tired, as well, so pack a nutrient-rich snack to enjoy during your breaks and take a vitamin if necessary.

Stop Feeling Overwhelmed by Sharing the Load

When you’re an entrepreneur, your business can feel like your baby, and it can be difficult to feel comfortable letting other people manage important aspects of its functioning. Spreading yourself too thin, though, is a recipe for disaster. The damage from you burning out will be much more significant than the small pains that might accompany letting someone else share the load.

Look at everything in your business that is essential to its functioning. This might include product production, services performed, money management, social media management, and other things vital to your business’s success. Decide which of these you are best suited to handling and which can be designated to someone else.

Payroll and taxes are two areas where mistakes can result in costly fines and the degradation of employee trust and satisfaction. Use a payroll service to take the worry of getting employee paychecks (you can set up a schedule, for example) and court-mandated payouts such as alimony and child support correct off your shoulders. If you’re on the fence, ask what is payroll help worth to you and your business? Do you really have the time to handle weekly payroll and keep track of all of your finances? If the answer is no, then it’s time to employ a service that can manage payroll as well as handle your taxes so that you don’t have to keep up with changing tax laws. Services such as these may seem extravagant but save you money in the long run.

Be proactive with handling the symptoms of burnout so that you can continue leading your business with confidence. Start your day off right and build from that foundation with meaningful breaks and by delegating tasks. You and your business will both be better off for it.

Two New Audiobooks


Hello Family and Happy Friday.

This weekend take some time to listen to our two new audiobooks on audible for free 🙂

Please enjoy one free audio review copy of Affirmations for Black Women & Girls for Beauty, Self Love, Career and Love, now available on Audible. Redeem the one-time use code below at






Please enjoy one free audio review copy of Affirmationen für Frauen & Mädchen: Selbstliebe, Schönheit, Karriere und Liebe (German Edition), now available on Audible. Redeem the one-time use code below at

Liebe (deutsche Ausgabe), jetzt bei Audible erhältlich. Lösen Sie den untenstehenden einmaligen Nutzungscode unter en




We would appreciate a review or comment so I can produce great audiobook content for you all! 🙂

Until next time,


New Branch of Reel Review


Hello Reel Review Family!

It’s been a hot minute since I have posted a movie review.

Am I still watching television? Yes.

Am I still loving film and T.V.? Yes.

However, I have also discovered a new passion. . . . .

Books and Audiobooks!!

Currently, I am reading The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma. In this book, Robin Sharma deems the hours of 5:00am to 6:00am as “The Victory Hour” where you should exercise, learn and reflect.

I’ve been implementing this “Victory Hour” in my life for some time now and I can say it has drastically changed the way I look at my day.

Okay, I’ve only done it for a week. And, I wake up at 6:00am instead of 5:00am but you get it, it’s helpful.

During my time in the morning to learn, I have been using the time to listen to audiobooks in different languages. I noticed how carving out some time in the morning has allowed me to live a more fulfilling life.

I loved this morning routine so much and it has given me time to develop a new line of business I wanted to share with you.

In addition to blog posts, Reel Review Publishing will be creating books and audiobooks on Audible!

Click below to check out our newest French audiobook we recently published!

To listen for free, here are some promo codes you can apply to your audible account! If you would like more, feel free to comment or email us 🙂






Until next time,


Build Your Business From the Ground Up, Post-Pandemic


Given the rise of “COVID-preneurs” (individuals who’ve decided to launch startups during the pandemic), here is a special guest post written by Chelsea Lamb at Business Pop!

The pandemic was a crisis that nobody ever thought would come to be. This crisis has also revealed a need for people to have a secondary means of income. Not only were numerous entrepreneurs confined to their homes, but a recession was bound to occur with the pandemic. Setting up a venture might be one of the best things you can do during this crisis, but it’s important to know how to get your business off the ground as we enter this promising post-pandemic phase.

Ensure You Have Financial Backup

Allocate a part of your savings toward necessities and emergency needs, but make sure to also set aside money to fund your business. Analyze the risk of incurring an overall loss and decide how much funding you need to allocate to your business to start — this way, your savings are still available for you to create an enterprise. You can also look into other funding options, such as business loans, angel investors, and so on. 

Research Your Product and Audience

Consider the possibility of creating and distributing your product or service — this means getting to know your offering’s sourcing and ecological imprint. For instance, if you make homemade goods, you need to know how long it takes to create each item. Also, if you source your product from a manufacturer, you need to know the complete process and reversal time from product design to distribution. Production time is an incredibly valuable investment for a business owner, so leave sufficient time to accomplish an adequate amount of customer orders while also making sure you don’t exhaust yourself with work. Besides analyzing what you offer, you should also find your audience to know whom you need to market to.

Draw the Marketing Aspect

Even before starting up, you need to develop a business plan encompassing the marketing strategies that best promote your product or service. Because we’re still fighting a global crisis, many businesses are on edge, with more than 40 percent of small businesses currently uneasy with their cash flow. However, as we approach the end of the pandemic, there are a few things you can do to improve your current and future sales.

Creating a business website will help you get noticed, look professional, and appeal to your audience as a serious venture. A website will also help sell your products and let people know your mission and philosophy, which will attract more customers. 

To show professionalism all the way through, consider hiring a graphic designer who will ensure that your website’s visual assets are attractive and fit for a successful marketing campaign. You can find countless freelance designers on online job platforms, so make sure to read reviews and compare delivery times and rates. Usually, freelance graphic design pricing sits somewhere between $15 and $35 per hour, but the costs may be higher if the professional has more experience and knowledge.

Improve Your Strategies

By enhancing the user experience on your website, you’ll get to build a successful company. Optimize your pages for use with mobile devices and desktop computers as people visit your website using both these means. Also, consider placing a live chatbox on your site for easily accessible customer support. Using SEO will make your business website more appealing to search engines like Google and enhance the number of clicks you receive.

If you’re only selling your products on your site, consider selling them on other platforms, too, such as Amazon. The website is well-recognized by consumers, and many people worldwide are shopping from there — it would be incredibly advantageous to have your products listed on its pages. Another strategy you can use and later improve is the automation of the sales system — this will allow you and your staff to focus on more important aspects, including content creation and advertising projects.

The Bottom Line

A crisis may seem like a challenging and risky time to run a business, but it is actually a good time to start. By using these techniques, you can get started on the right foot and increase the chances of your venture not only succeeding now but also into the future.

If you need help with cover letters, resumes, and other similar pieces of content or translation into and from Spanish and French, connect with Lauryn today.

A Lesson on Love from Malcolm and Marie


Malcolm and Marie is a new film on Netflix starring Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) written and directed by Sam Levinson. I applaud the film’s creativity– a two character film shot in a 35mm black and white frame. It is gorgeous and captivating to see. However, the depth of the dialogue falls short resting heavily on a criticism of Hollywood, the film industry and of course, film critics.

I found myself falling for the characters but not really sure who to root for. From the beginning, we are thrust into an uncomfortable tension between a young Hollywood couple.

Marie, a former actress and recovering drug addict, is frustrated yet indifferent when Malcolm forgets to thank her in his speech at his movie premiere. Marie and Malcolm then proceed to use the historical precedent of their relationship to evidence the love, indifference, support and chaos they’ve both endured. The characters fight with veracity using cruel and uncomfortable language. This ultimately augments the dangerous consequences of disrespect and manipulation in personal relationships.

Relationships are a juicy topic so let’s dive in. What has COVID-19 taught us about relationships? A variety of sources reveal the pandemic has presented a “perfect storm” when it comes to relationships. Some are focusing on building a family and improving their mental health. While others have moved-in together after a couple of months of dating. Some couples got engaged, while others filed for separation or divorce. At first glance, this doesn’t seem particularly special. You can say this all happened before the pandemic. You’re right. But within the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in “corona-cuffing,” “accelerated relationships” and shocking separations within a short amount of time.

During times of confinement, it is imperative to put communication on the forefront of our relationships. Throughout the film, Marie struggles to reveal what she really wanted. She wanted to be casted in Malcolm’s film, but the film implies she failed to make the effort. She wanted her efforts to be recognized but perhaps this personal value was not communicated earlier in the relationship. Malcolm merely wants to celebrate his big moment. After receiving constant praise at the premiere, he feels the fruits of his labor are finally paying off. He wants to take this moment to celebrate with the girl he loves. But, he is unable to see how his actions have forced Marie into a mental state of indifference and resentment.

When we take on anything in life, we need support. And for Marie and Malcom, the film projects a downward spiral of miscommunication, ignorance and blinding emotion. People often project our preferred method of support onto others and ignore the fact that different methods of support are needed in different stages of our lives. I am not a relationship expert by any means. However, this movie piqued my curiosity and invited me to explore how our life stages influenced the support we need.

What I found is that there are very distinct methods of support for different stages of our lives. Some scientists found men and women go through different life stages of development. [1] For Malcolm, it appears he is in the “building” stage of this life where he is determined to make a name for himself. His whole self is pouring his energy into his craft and that amount of energy doesn’t leave much for more. It is not that he’s lazy or indifferent as Marie sees it. He is just developing his professional sense of self. While Marie, recovering for her past, is looking for the appreciation she never received before. She is possibly looking for words of affirmation from Malcolm. [2]

Overall, I am upset with this film because it disrupts and taints our views of relationships. I believe if we looked at relationships with a curious rather than confrontational eye, we will find more love, understanding and reasons for our behaviors. Or maybe I should exhibit a fierce passion to question and challenge others. What do you think?

As I end this post, I wanted to leave with you a quote from a book I am currently reading,

“. . .we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

Until next time,





File First, Litigate Later? Procedural Fencing explored in Epic Tech, LLC v. Arno Res., LLC

Blog, Law and Entertainment

Vince Lombardi, the famed NFL Coach already knew this when he stated, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Well, when it comes to the Fifth Circuit, it does not favor races to the courthouse.

The parties and predecessors in this case have been engaged in various disputes regarding a gaming software agreement (Software Agreement) since the early 2000s. In August of 2004, Custom Games Design (Games Design) and Gateway Gaming, LLC (Gateway) entered into the Software Agreement. Here, Games Design agreed to develop games and give Gateway a license to use its proprietary software (Software). If Gateway refused to make payments, hire current Games Design employees, or solicit Games Design employees within 180 days of termination, the Software Agreement was terminated. 

By February of 2017, the original parties to the Software Agreement had dramatically altered. Gateway dissolved in January of 2013 transferring its assets to Epic Tech, LLC; Winter Sky, LLC and Frontier Software Systems, LLC (collectively referred to as Epic Tech). While Gaming Design entered into a licensing agreement with Arno Resources (Arno) granting, conveying and assigning all of its rights, title and interest to Software including the right to bring suit arising out of its misuse. 

In May of 2013, Arno’s legal counsel sent a demand letter to Epic Tech alleging unauthorized use of the Software.  Although the demand letter asserted Arno would pursue all remedies available both at law and equity, it also noted a potential discussion surrounding settlement possibilities.

Instead of replying to Arno’s demand letter by May 22, 2020, Epic Tech replied with a declaratory judgement action in Travis Country District Court. In its action, Epic Tech argued the Software Agreement terminated December 31, 2005; Gateway previously purchased rights to all Software development, and Arno’s claims were released by a previous settlement agreement.[1] In an effort to preserve its rights, Arno filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia alleging violations to the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting a breach of contract through fraud and injunctive relief. [2]

Arno opines the court should use its discretion to dismiss Epic Tech’s action under the anticipatory exception to the first-to-file rule. By filing an action after receipt of a demand letter, Arno proclaims Epic Tech’s suit was improperly filed and deprived Arno of its chosen forum. Epic Tech protests noting its efforts were merely to eliminate a baseless claim under Texas law and the first-to-file rule should apply. Under the Federal Declaratory Judgement Act (Act), a federal court may declare rights and other legal obligations of any interested party (28 U.S.C. §2201(a)).  Under the Act, Congress creates an opportunity, not a duty, to grant appropriate relief to qualifying litigants. 

When two cases are pending before two federal courts, the first-to-file rule states the subsequent case may be dismissed if the issues raised by the cases substantially overlap.[3] Cases do not have to be identical. Rather, substantial overlap exists when the core issue is the same or if a majority of the evidence brought would be identical.[4] The Fifth Circuit generally notes the court where the action was first filed is appropriate when the subsequent case filed involves substantially similar issues.  However, the Fifth Circuit will deviate from the first-to-file rule when a declaratory judgment is filed in anticipation of a suit, creating an opening for forum shopping and depriving a potential plaintiff of their chosen forum (the Anticipatory Filing Exception). 

To apply the Anticipatory Filing Exception, the court looked to Paragon[5] where the court failed to apply the first-to-file rule when a party filed a declaratory action in lieu of responding to a demand letter. Similarly, the court did not apply the first-to-file rule in Bedrock Logistics [6] when a party filed a suit in federal court four days after receiving a settlement offer. Here, Arno’s pre-suit demand letter enclosed a draft of a yet to be filed Georgia complaint  if the case was not settled and noted the possibility of discission settlement options. The court did not find evidence of Epic Tech engaging in improper or abusive tactics. Even so, the court found Epic Tech’s declaratory judgement was anticipatory and deprived Arno from filing suit in the Northern District Court of Georgia. 

Although Epic Tech was the first to file in their respective district court, this case shows “winning doesn’t always mean being first.” [7]

[1] Epic Tech v. Arno Resources, D-1-GN-20-02870 (261st Dist. Ct., Travis County, Tex. May 29, 2020). 

[2] Arno v. Epic Tech, No 1:20 CV-2540-CAO (N.D. Ga. June 17, 2020).

[3]  Cadle Co. v. Whataburger of Alice, Inc., 174 F.3d 599, 603 (5th Cir. 1999).

[4] Int’l Fid. Ins. Co. v. Sweet Little Mexico Corp., 655 F.3d 671,678 (5th Cir. 2011). 

[5] 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6565, 2008 WL 3890495 at *1-5

[6] 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65432, 2017 WL 1547013, at *5

[7] Bonnie Blair 

A new mission inspired by The Wire

Blog, TV Shows

The trajectory of Reel Review by Lauryn has reached a bifurcation point.

Let me back up. . . hello! How are you? Yes, I know it has been a hot minute. I have my reasons (is it too soon to blame 2020)?

I am so excited to share this new found sense of purpose with you all. I have truly enjoyed writing film and television reviews and plan to continue. After months of reflection something in my mind was telling me to do more. As cliché or cheesy as it sounds, I have been looking for a way to work both collaboratively and independently to analyze scenes in film and make connections to educational topics such as history, psychology, or statistics. Pairing film with literature to make a difference now sits at the core of Reel Review by Lauryn. With this,

Reel Review by Lauryn has a new mission: to advocate, promote and increase literacy of others through film and television.

This mission flourished after I completed my first assignment of the new year. During the course of the semester, my classmates and I are tasked to analyze the social, moral and political perspectives of the criminal justice system through the HBO series The Wire. I find this non-conventional pedagogical method has really enhanced my appreciation for both literature and film. Now, I want to explore it with a community I share the deepest connection with: fellow students. In 2021, Reel Review by Lauryn has a new goal: to connect with local communities to advocate and promote literacy through film and television.

Very excited to launch this new initiative. Would love to hear your comments, thoughts and suggestions. If you have any films I should start with please share in the comments below 🙂

As a treat, here is the assignment that started it all:

** This assignment contains spoilers for the first three episodes of The Wire.

The origins of The Wire play on a careful balance between revenge and compassion. In essence, The Wire is David Simon’s literary version of a “revenge body.” Out of disappointment, betrayal and anger, David Simon pours all his efforts into creating something that will make The Baltimore Sun, his “ex,” regret every action they’ve ever made. Although its original origins may stem from anger, this “revenge” product ends up showing compelling compassion for vulnerable populations who receive the harsh realities of capitalism and chasing the American Dream in Baltimore.

The Wire’s debut didn’t have much commercial success. But are we really surprised? Everything truly great is never liked the first time, the world isn’t ready for it. Especially when the HBO subscription based audience is “composed of (comparatively) affluent, middle class, white Americans” [1] in 2002. Friends and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation were the two topped ranked television programs in the United States. The Wire was a different breed of television. 

I laughed when commentators celebrated the “equal image rights of both criminals and police.” [2] The writer’s room for The Wire must have been the best. I imagine the atmosphere to be similar to the office of Rhonda Pearlman. Messy, filled with loose papers and a disorganized pile of previous novels from Mr. Lehan or Mr. Pelecanos. Or perhaps the writers room had a stack of  old Baltimore Sun newspapers in the middle of the table with red circles on the stories that would inspire the next episode. Or possibly red Xs over stories that shook David Simon to his core. A red X on a news headline that finally made him realize that he was tired of merely reporting real life. It was time for him to create a story to tell the world. Afterall, “when you write for a TV show like The Wire you’ve got three to four million readers watching your work. Even Grisham doesn’t sell that many books.”[3]

Writing a living novel is every writer’s dream. Each frame is used like a page to push the story along. Each progression closer and closer to piercing the veil between reality and fiction. We look to the television to tell us stories. But more importantly, we look for answers.  I can see a female audience member looking to solve her troubles with an ex-boyfriend through the uncommitted and steamy relationship between Rhonda Pearlman and Detective McNulty. Of course, I wouldn’t follow it. But it’s TV, and the uncertainty we have in MUST be satisfied on screen.

Let me get back to the show. Who do you call the worst cop who graduated from the police academy? A cop. No, it’s “a Pryzbylewski.”

The city of Baltimore is selfish. It’s filled with its own illnesses of racial discrimination, poverty and corruption. Baltimore selfishly conceals the hypocrisies of society that make it impossible for an outsider to relate to its harsh realities. Unfamiliarity takes my hand and gently walks me away from these realities. I am detached from it. This is why The Wire couldn’t be a documentary or another book voluntarily bought by someone who’s interest is piqued by a creative cover or criminal justice reform. David Simon did it right. The Wire needs to be a show so everyone ­– including the HBO subscriber audience ­– can swallow the history of Baltimore while being distracted by attractive actors, lighting, makeup and wardrobe. 

These people need to feel real to us. I need to hate Pryzbylewski and Herc. I can’t stand them. Pryzbylewski betrayed me when he blinded a 14 year old boy in a desperate attempt to assert his dominance to make up for his mediocrity at his job. I need to appreciate the unconventional genius of Bubbles and his “red hat” routine to help Kima Greggs identify key players in the low risers. When this happens, Unfamiliarity walks away and compassion, love and understanding sit with me on the couch as I view the next episode with a hot cup of tea. 

There is more to say. The adversarial criminal justice system in the United States force defendants to rely on an attorney to defend them even if they act like Maurice Levy, hitting his client after referring to him as “you people.” That was the one time where I physically acted in disgust toward a character. I immediately thought to myself, this show is too good. 

David Simon doesn’t function like a doctor writing a prescription to cure Baltimore’s illnesses. Simon is more of a researcher. He discovering the root of these issues using critical observation, took detailed notes and presented it to the world. He did it right. He stopped dictating the world around him and created his own novel using television. 

[1] The Wire Urban Decay and American Television (9) 

[2] REVISIONS, Now on TV, Drug Dealers and Gravity Mafia Dons 

[3] The Television Show that Thinks it’s a Novel

Cheers to a brighter 2021,