Review: ‘La Forêt/The Forest’ – a Netflix Original

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Image via TVQC

I recently finished watching La Forêt (The Forest), a six-part Netflix Original series by Delinda Jacbos that was released on June 29.

It is about a teenage girl named Jennifer who disappears from her small village near the Ardennes Forest. Captain Gaspard Decker (Samuel Labarthe) and cop Virginie Musso (Suzanne Clément), who knows Jennifer well, lead the investigation. With help from Eve (Alexia Barlier), a concerned teacher with a mysterious past, the group begins to discover unsettling clues and secrets.

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Captain Gaspard Decker (left) and cop Virginie Musso. Image via IMDb

La Forêt is French with English subtitles, which to me adds more urgency and suspense. Subtitles can be annoying and I find I have to be in the mood to watch films and shows that have them. But in my opinion, La Forêt is so well done, both in directing and storytelling, that you become immersed to the point that you begin to forget that you’re watching a show with subtitles.

There have been a lot of mixed reviews about La Forêt, such as that “it moved too quickly”, “there were plot holes”, “the characters were underdeveloped”, and that the story was just like any other missing persons drama, especially ones where people disappear into the woods and never return.

But personally, I really enjoyed the story and thought it was well-written and directed. I also found the characters to all be very interesting, and that the actors that played them to be very convincing. The only thing I have a bit of a problem with is the lack of development of a relationship between two of the show’s primary characters… you’ll see what I mean when you watch!

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Eve Mendel. Photo via JustWatch

In addition, I loved the instrumental music that was used throughout the show, especially during scenes that were more suspenseful or mysterious. The main soundtrack for La Forêt was composed by Etienne Forget and it is so beautiful because it’s largely acoustic and orchestral with guitar, piano and some strings, and at the same time almost eery and “alien” with its subtle use of electronic sounds. Make sure to keep an ear out for it!

If you haven’t watched it yet, La Forêt is the fictional crime-drama you’ve been missing out on, and it’s totally binge-worthy. It is intriguing from beginning to end, and it’s full of revelations and cliffhangers that keep you guessing. It reminds me a lot of CTV’s Cardinal – I highly recommend it, plus Season 2 came out back in January so there are plenty of episodes to watch.

What can I say, I love crime-dramas and thrillers, fictional or not. I just really, really enjoy a good mystery!

Image via Netflix

Check out La Forêt (The Forest) on Netflix and let me know what you think!

Review: ‘Golden Hour’ by Kacey Musgraves

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Golden Hour cover photo courtesy of MCA NASHVILLE

Kacey Musgraves released her latest, and fourth, album Golden Hour on March 30.

This album is a bit more serious than her previous albums and features more love songs than witty narratives. It is a significant shift from her previous albums in terms of sound as well – blending country-pop with disco and electronic influences.

No matter which way you slice it, there’s nothing not country about Kacey and her music, and what separates her from other country artists, both past and present, is her writing and storytelling.

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Still from the official audio video for the title track Golden Hour

For example, Kacy made a big impact with her major label debut album Same Trailer Different Park, which is comprised of songs with lyrics questioning religion and small town life; extolling the pleasures of marijuana; of how you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl; and embracing the LGTBQ community (where she was the first LGTB-friendly CMA winner for Song of the Year for her song “Follow Your Arrow“).

Her song writing is so witty, and so true. You can’t help but smile and fall in love with her songs. She sings about life as she sees it, which happens to be on a relatable level for many, whether you’re from the trailer park, country, small town, or big city.

On Golden Hour:
“I have a lot more love songs this time around, and I’ve never been one to write a love song and really feel it. That probably sounds like the most depressing thing ever. [But] I’m coming off getting married and being in this golden hour of my personal life, where all these things are finally coming to fruition. I found myself inspired to write about this person and all these things he brought out in me that weren’t there before.”
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Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly wedding, October 2017. Photo by Natalie Barrett/NBarrett Photography.

Golden Hour is a gorgeous album that, to me, expresses Kacey’s true and limitless talent. My favourite songs on the album are:
Slow Burn
Lonely Weekend
Oh, What A World
Mother
Love Is A Wild Thing
Velvet Elvis
High Horse
Golden Hour

It is definitely an excellent album for listening and singing along to in the car – I can see it being a staple for me and a big part of my Summer 2018 playlist!

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out Golden Hour – even if you don’t particularly enjoy country, I know you will find something in Kacey’s music because, as it’s been rumoured, her music is “country for those who don’t like country.” If that’s you… let me know what you think!

Review: ‘Castles’ by Lissie

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Castles cover photo courtesy of Lissie’s website

Singer-songwriter Lissie released her fourth studio album Castles on March 23 and it is EPIC. The album was written largely from her farm in Iowa and follows 2016’s My Wild West (which was written during and after her move to Iowa from California).

Lissie is so brilliant and I loved her music for a long time, since first discovering an alternative version of her song ‘When I’m Alone‘ (Catching A Tiger, 2010) on YouTube many moons ago.

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Photo by Gretchen Robinette

With each new album, we see Lissie experiment not only lyrically but musically as well. Castles is almost symphonic – more dream-pop than the folk-rock sound that she is known for, but while there is change, much remains the same: Lissie’s lyrical genius and her powerful voice.

Lissie is a versatile artist, and Castles isn’t the first time she’s experimented with sounds and genres. In her 2011 EP Covered Up With Flowers, Lissie covers, in her own style, six diverse songs including Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’.

According to Lissie’s website:

Castles represents a spiritual, as well as musical development: it’s a portrait of an artist who has always been on the move, and is finally creating a sense of permanency; a chance to catch her breath and reflect.

Castles is about transformation and the balance between self-reliance, the longing for love and the need of feeling whole – the trials and tribulations of life, love, and loss. It’s about walking blindly into the darkness, the unknown, only to arrive on the other side stronger than ever.

I really get the feeling that Castles is for Lissie, as much as it is for her fans.

Photo by William Aubrey Reynolds

I really love the entire album and have been listening to it on repeat since its release. The tracks that I am really digging are:
World Away
Crazy Girl
Castles
Blood & Muscle
Best Days
Boyfriend
Somewhere
Love Blows
Peace

‘World Away’ and ‘Meet Me in the Mystery’ sound like they could be tracks off of a Fleetwood Mac album.

‘Somewhere’ is absolutely gorgeous, especially the part after the bridge, before the chorus.

‘Love Blows’ is a power ballad and so fun to sing and rock-out to!

‘Peace’ is so beautifully driving and ethereal – I love the guitar, I could just jam out to an instrumental of this song but Lissie’s voice and lyrics truly make the song.

Photo by Jørund Førland Pedersen

All-in-all Castles is a stellar album, easily her best release. Lissie consistently delivers, and despite experimentation, stays so, so true to herself… awesome album. I highly recommend you check it out!

 

 

Guys and Dolls, Stratford

Today I went to Stratford to see Guys and Dolls at the Festival Theatre! It was a beautiful day for a show and a walkabout around town.Guys and Dolls is a musical of the ’30s and ’40s, that is set in 1950s New York, where illicit gambling and fast-talking is the norm. Strapped for cash, gambler and crap entrepreneur Nathan Detroit is desperate to get his hands on some cash to secure a venue for his craps event – anybody who is anybody will be there, so the heat is on!

When Detroit runs into high-roller Sky Masterson, he makes Masterson an offer he can’t refuse, one that Detroit thinks is a ‘safe bet’ and will net him some easy cash: Can Masterson take any doll that Detroit names on a date?

Surely not if the ‘doll’ happens to be the strait-laced, level-headed Sgt. Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission. But it turns out that it’s hearts that are at stake, and where love’s concerned there’s no telling how the dice will land.

Evan Buliung (centre) as Sky Masterson with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Guys and Dolls was vivid and energetic. The singing and dancing were on point. Director and choreographer Donna Feore is sheer talent, as is the company she worked with to make this show possible. I LOVED the opening act of the show, where everything was bustling like it was a busy city street and harbour area. Every scene of the show was exceptional!

Members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The acting was also incredible – the company was full of talent. There is so much to say, but here is a bit about the artists who played some of my favourite characters:

I first encountered the talent of Alexis Gordon (Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls) last fall when she played Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music.

Alexis was great in A Little Night Music where she played a similar role of a straight-laced, naïve young woman – but the character of Sarah Brown was a firecracker just waiting to be lit! It was really nice to see Alexis portray a strong female character, and one that was a more major role. Also of note is Alexis’ singing! She has an incredible voice that you have to hear to believe.

This was my first time encountering the calibre of Blythe Wilson (Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls). She made Miss Adelaide come to life with believable effervescence. I hope I am able to see more of her work!

Alexis Gordon (left) as Sarah Brown and Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

I also enjoyed the smooth-talking and wise-cracking of both Sean Arbuckle (Nick Detroit in Guys and Dolls) and Evan Buliung (Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls). I also encountered Sean in A Little Night Music where he portrayed the more minor role of Mr. Lindquist.

The duo of Trevor Pratt (portraying Nicely-Nicely Johnson in this performance of Guys and Dolls) and Mark Uhre (Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls) were a riot! They’re really an ideal friendship and comic-relief.

My favourite aspects of the show were the signs that could change from black and white to all sorts of neon colours – and with the stage floor looking like a map of the city and the stage background made to look like scaffolding and fire escapes, it all really transported you and made you feel like you were on the mean-streets of New York City.I also loved the costumes, everything was gorgeous, period-appropriate, bright and sparkly. I especially loved Miss Adelaide’s outfits and her Hot Box Club costumes, in particular the one she wore for Bushel and a Peck – it was sparkly and gorgeous; it was exactly what I picture when I think of showgirls, very Gatsby-esque. The ensemble costumes for Take Back Your Mink were also gorgeous, and I loved that dance number!

Blythe Wilson (centre) as Miss Adelaide with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Aaaah, there is so much I could say about this show but I think I will leave it here. All I can really say it that if you get a chance to Guys and Dolls in Stratford, GO! It’s on until October 29.