‘Barbie’ dominates the box office, with millions of tickets sold in its first weekend of release
In a whimsical fantasy comedy film, Barbie’s, writer-director Greta Gerwig humanises the infamous doll by critiquing the unrealistic beauty standards it represented for many young girls around the world.
With the rise of the feminism movement in the 2000s, Mattel Barbie doll’s popularity waned as consumers did not like what the doll stood for: sexism, negative body image, and its lack of diversity.
Bearing these debates in mind, Gerwig’s movie takes a different route, in the film, she takes us through the journey of Barbie, played by actress, Margot Robbie, whose perfect world is tainted after she repeatedly has thoughts about death.
To fix this, she is advised to travel to the real, to meet her owner, who might be the one struggling mentally. She is accompanied by fellow doll Ken, who discovers patriarchy and seeks to implement it in Barbieland.
One particularly pleasing aspect about of the film is how it was able to showcase that women in the real world are still being reduced to their beauty and body; while in Barbieland, they are seen as people, who are celebrated for their intellects
Matriarchy and patriarchy are both put to the test in the film. However, although the film tries to send across a message of women empowerment, it makes it seem as though a world run by women would disregard the role that men play in society. This is in contrast with what feminism stands for, and that is equality for all genders.
In its first weekend of release, the movie made $162 million in North America, while cinemas in Sandton, Montecasino and Clearwater Mall in Roodeproot were filled with eager fans.
Whether you love or hate the seemingly perfect doll, are male or female – we all have something to learn from her. Be it doing some self-introspection or unlearning patriarchal mindsets.
The Barbie movie premiered in cinemas on Friday, July 21, 2023.
Vuvu rating: 8 out of 10
FEATURED IMAGE: Barbie movie poster starring Margot Robbie who plays ‘Barbie’. Photo: www.barbie-themovie.com
Prime a popular drink amongst teenagers fails to quench thirst with no guarantee it won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth
Prime, the new popular range of sports and energy drinks amongst teenagers that retailed in South Africa at Checkers stores from May 1, 2023 disappoints in taste.
The drinks were launched in 2022 by popular YouTubers, Logan Paul and Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji also known as KSI. “We created Prime to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners to fill the void where great taste meets function,” said the pair on their Prime website.
The drinks, which are marketed by Prime Hydration have been publicised on social media platforms that it was sold out shortly after it was stocked to retail, with scores of teenagers and parents standing in long queues to stock up.
I had been trying to get my hands on it for more than a week before it was finally restocked at my closest Checkers in Rosebank mall. The drinks are clearly in high demand, thanks to its brand reputation and how well it was advertised by the YouTubers.
There are four flavours to choose from which are: tropical punch, lemon lime, ice pop and blue raspberry. I got all four bottles, with each drink retailing at R39,99.
The ice pop flavour tastes like medicine, it’s sweet and bitter at the same time and it leaves an after taste in the mouth after drinking. The blue raspberry tastes a bit sweet. You can taste the raspberry flavour in it as well as the coconut water. It also tastes similar to the Powerade energy drink, the mountainblast flavour.
The lemon- lime flavour, tastes good with a hint of sweetness and bitterness, you can taste the lemon lime in it. While the tropical punch flavour is sweet and it tastes like a combination of guava juice and watermelon.
Despite the flavours, the drink does not hydrate, instead, I had heart palpitations a few minutes after consuming the drinks – even though I did not taste all of them at the same time.
Uyathandwa Mani, final year BCom student at Wits told Wits Vuvuzela that she did not feel any difference after drinking it, “it did not hydrate me at all, the only thing I felt was a headache.”
The ingredients listed on Prime include: 10,5% coconut water, filtered water, branch chain amino acids, electrolytes, vitamin B, E and A, citric acid, several antioxidants and flavouring.
The Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) said on their website, “Although the Prime website claims the Hydration drink to be suitable for all ages, other sources have warned children under 15 years old from consuming it. Based on the nutrition label provided on the Prime website, the Prime Hydration drink compares with similar drinks in the sports/hydration category.”
However, the two creators said in a video on Paul’s YouTube channel that Prime hydration drink has no caffeine which makes it safe for children to consume whereas the Prime energy drink (which is not available in South Africa yet) has caffeine and it’s not suitable for people under the age of 18.
The packaging of the hydration drink is very simple. I like the ice pop flavour bottle which has several colours combined that make it interesting and appealing. The rest are simple 500ml bottles coloured blue, lime and red with the drinks’ name written in black.
Overall, the hydration drink is overhyped as people made exaggerating claims about the drink saying it’s too good and truly hydrates. Wits Vuvuzela rates it a five out of 10 because the taste was disappointing in three flavours. For the price it retails for, one expected more.
FEATURED IMAGE: Friends drinking Prime hydration drinks at night. Photo: Sinazo Mondo
Rosebank’s newest eatery is the coziest spot for winter in Johannesburg.
Fugazzi opened its doors in April 2023 at the Zone in Rosebank Mall to serve soul-warming Italian food with a twist.
This is the latest restaurant venture by Warren Murley, owner of other successful restaurants such as Proud Mary, which is opposite to Starbucks in Rosebank and Mama Samba which lies just next door to Fugazzi. Manager of Fugazzi Marco De Costa told Wits Vuvuzela jokingly that Murley has “a bit of a chokehold on the area.”
It takes a special restaurant to be full of chattering people on a cold Tuesday night and Fugazzi achieved just that.
The cosy wood-finished interior is influenced by 1980’s New York diners, with long red booths lining the walls and 80’s inspired green tiling and eclectic artwork, adding colour to the large, open space.
The vision behind the restaurant’s concept pays homage to the way Italian cuisine has been altered by restaurants in the United States of America. This is why Fugazzi is no regular Italian restaurant, “if you want Andiccio’s, there’s one on every corner, but if you want Fugazzi, this is the one and only” said De Costa, adding that: “Fugazzi means different or messed-up” which means that everything served comes with a twist from the traditional Italian recipe.
When entering the restaurant, the warmth from the surplus of gas heaters with bright orange flames flickering around the room immediately makes one forget about the winter outside. The price of the food ranges from R80 to R250 for a main course meal, stretching a student budget slightly. The most affordable beverage option is a soda float or an ice-tea, which will set you back R50, while the pricier cocktail and martini selection ranges up to R100.
The service was efficient and friendly as the waiter was happy to recommend both food and beverages; and brought everything within a reasonable time.
Fugazzi prides themselves on their wine collection, and I was impressed by the recommendation of a glass of Mason Road Chenin Blanc, which was smooth and lightly wooded. It was not too dry and easy to drink.
For vegetarians, the many menu options which catered for me were a pleasant surprise. The waiter’s recommendation was the linguini Aglio e Olio, a linguini served in a sauce made of olive oil, garlic, chilli and cherry tomatoes. The dish was delightfully presented in a tangle of pasta on a long oval plate.
The food was flavourful and comforting to eat, however the twist from traditional Italian food is difficult to notice. In addition, the waiter said that they don’t make their own pasta dough and so one cannot help but feel that the simplicity of such dishes, does not warrant a price of R95.
The warm interior of the restaurant and the carb heavy nature of the tasty food makes this a great place to go to escape the cold, as winter approaches.
FEATURED IMAGE: The entrance to Fugazzi restaurant in the Zone at Rosebank Mall. Photo: Kimberley Kersten
Jazz musician dazzles music lovers with an acoustic concert
Multifaceted South African musician, Gabi Motuba debuted her new project, The Sabbath in a concert held at Wits Chris Seabrooke music hall on Saturday, May 6.
Motuba is a Johannesburg-based vocalist, composer and music facilitator whose music is centred around world politics, black studies, religion and genre studies. She released her first album, Sanctum Sanctorium in 2016 and Tefiti Goddess of Creation in 2019.
In the project, released on June 28, 2022, Motuba shifted her focus to talk about her experience with grief; as her father lost his battle against Covid-19, during the pandemic. As a result, the project consists of five lamentation songs that would leave any listener in a state of melancholy. Motuba told Wits Vuvuzela that: “The project is largely a very reflective work for me in terms of moving from trauma into grief and into the pursuit of restoration”.
Wits music alumni, Tembinkosi Mavimbela, who played double bass during the performance said that in The Sabbath, Motuba showed immense vulnerability. He described her performance as a form of supplication to a higher power. “Her performance was a prayer indeed; it takes courage to be vulnerable on stage and we shouldn’t look at a Sabbath in one direction because we approach prayer in different ways.”
What added to her performance was the concert took place at the state-of-the-art music hall . The venue is the only space in the city that is exclusively designed to optimize live musical sound with modern acoustic design. This added to Motuba’s exceptional vocal range.
Wits art student, Rethabile Zilila said that she was surprised at how audible everything was but appreciated the spacious nature of the hall.
Motuba explained that as a composure, mostly working with string instruments, she chose the venue because she knew the acoustics of the room will produce a beautiful sound.
The attendees’ sight senses were also activated. While Motuba was performing, there was a background theme inspired by nature on display.
Wits Fine Arts lecturer, Zen Marie, who was in charge of the displays said he sets up the landscape in response to the music.
This was evident as he displayed dark clouds as she was performing a track titled, Nabu Lobosuku , which means here’s the night. This exuded a dimmer and sombre atmosphere with the mood in the room quietening down as everybody was enthralled by her voice.
The final part of the performance had a much lighter and brighter landscape, consisting of clear skies, which was an important moment showing the transition from grief to freedom. One could clearly feel the biblical reference as she sang the last track on the album, Amen, meaning the end.
The hour-long concert was attended by the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai and former head of the Wits School of Arts Professor Brett Pyper.
FEATURED IMAGE:Gabi Motuba thanking her audiences after her performance. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov
This project takes the reader on a journey across lands to explore the complex nature of memory; leaving them wanting to explore their own.
Uncovering Memory is a powerful book which unpacks a research project aimed at working through personal, familial and societal memories by using film to locate oneself in the current day.
Living in post-colonial and apartheid South Africa, the book recognises that South Africans live in a society that is filled with imagery from the past, and it wants to unearth how these images affect people’s sub-conscious minds.
Written by Wits film and television professor, Tanja Sakota and published by the Wits University Press in March this year, the book is compilation of understandable and practical examples of the power of practice-based research, film and autobiographical style of academic writing that draws on and analyses the author’s own lived experiences.
For example, the book seeks to answer the question of how a student in the 21st century can look at a statue of Cecil John Rhodes during #RhodesMustFall in 2015, and be so emotionally charged to throw feces on a statue of Rhodes. In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Sakota describes spaces and places around us as, “deeply entrenched with the memory of the past”.
Using the camera as the primary research tool, Sakota and fellow participants walk through chosen areas which represent something historically important to that researcher, and later, they narrate and critically unpack the impact these spaces had on them. In doing so, they seek to “uncover memory through space and place” to try and “make the invisible, visible through a camera.” Sakota does this in her book as well as in a series of short-film projects under the same name as the book.
In these films, released and explained in tandem with the book, participants explore their own historical trauma. Specifically, and most memorably, Sakota explores her parents own personal trauma through walking along the train-tracks in Poland which once transported millions to their death during the Holocaust in her own short film titled, Shattered Reflection. The topics that Sakota uncovers of her own are at times heart-breaking memories of both past and present, through these spaces.
The book is separated into three main parts: research with students, then colleagues, and finally the authors. The research focused on locations such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Berlin.
As much as each part of the book provides well thought out ideas of the subject matter, the work becomes more powerful for the reader as the book progresses. This is due to the increasingly personal style of writing, where Sakota eventually finds herself central to the research, where she is the filmmaker and researcher unpacking both her own personal and family trauma.
The book challenges the concept of research being separate from oneself, serving as a key reference for students and researchers (particularly filmmakers) interested in undertaking a similar journey of uncovering their own memories, in attempts to locate who they are in a postcolonial space.
The book does not have a conclusive ending, but rather serves as a starting point for its readers to use.
An immortalisation of how the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu inspired South Africa to be a society where peace could prevail.
In her documentary, A Tree Has Fallen – Remembering Desmond Tutu, Swedish journalist Marika Griehsel shows the religious stance of the late Anglican archbishop on a politically-fragmented apartheid South Africa.
A compilation of archive material and interviews, this documentary is not only focused on the apartheid past but also includes present-day footage of children being asked to identify the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Its focus is on comparing the type of South Africa he imagined at the dawn of democracy to what the citizens are currently experiencing.
Tutu is famously known for the quote, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” from a speech given at Stanford University on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1986. In the documentary he is introduced to the viewer as a liberal Christian – he applied the teachings of the religion based on social needs rather than what is traditionally taught, such as staying strong in one’s faith and prayer while waiting for a miracle from God.
In A Tree Has Fallen, Tutu describes himself as someone who became a leader by default because the political leaders at the time were in exile. Griehsel does a good job reflecting this statement in reality by showing the viewer Tutu’s transition from standing in front of a pulpit at church to standing at a podium at political rallies, yet still in his Anglican church attire.
Through Tutu’s statements such as, “No human being is beyond the love of God,” Griehsel shows the viewer how the imagination of a “rainbow nation” – coined by Tutu for the post-apartheid multiracial South Africa – began as not only a call to unite all races but also Africans in their diversity.
In an apartheid society where Africans in South Africa were divided along tribal lines and by political affiliation, Tutu is shown emerging as a non-political, pro-peace preacher to the people of South Africa. This is coupled with some parts of an interview by the same producer of this documentary, Griehsel, done on behalf of the Nobel Foundation.
On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at the Wits school of arts cinema, students and staff members had an exclusive chance to see the documentary before its unknown release. Griehsel told Wits Vuvuzela, “I think he is one of our times’ most inspiring leaders, like Nelson Mandela.”
Griehsel does well in visualising the close friendship between Tutu and the former president in the documentary. The use of close-up shots on footage of them holding hands after Mandela was released from prison; footage of their meeting during their pension years and multiple clips that have Tutu referring to Mandela are used as great indicators to the type of friendship they had. In one of the clips, Tutu is caught on camera referring to Mandela in a humorous way: “…he has a poor taste in shirts.”
In the Wits Vuvuzela interview, Griehsel continued to say, “I am very grateful that I was allowed to screen the film [at Wits] and I hope that it will inspire young people and those who have seen [the film] to ask themselves: ‘What can I do?’ ‘What is my role?’”
According to Griehsel, the compilation and production of the documentary began in 2001. With the help of a South African editor and principal photographer, Michael Jaspan, it screened for the first time at the September 2022 Göteborg Book Fair in Sweden.
Vuvu rating: 8/10
FEATURED IMAGE: Pictured at the screening of the Tutu documentary, on the second row, left, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria, Christian Fogelstrom, and in front, the producer of the documentary, Marika Griehsel. Photo: Michael Jaspan
Africa’s Gold Mafia made up of self-proclaimed prophets, diplomats and gangsters caught in 4K smuggling gold and ‘washing money’.
A four-part investigative documentary produced and aired on news channel, Al Jazeera, has blown the lid on a syndicate that facilitates well-orchestrated money laundering services for criminals. The first episode, The Laundry Service, aired on March 23, 2023 and new episodes have come out every week since.
The documentary took two years of investigation and much of it hinged on the undercover work of three reporters, who relied on hidden cameras and microphones to catch those implicated red-handed.
Leading the investigative unit (iUnit) is ‘Mr Stanley’, a Chinese gangster in search of money laundering services. Then there’s ‘Jonny’ (or the Hawala Man) a black-market trader who moves money across borders without using banks. And lastly, ‘Ms. Sin’, Mr Stanley’s financial advisor.
The first episode profiles Kamlesh Pattni, a pastor who classifies himself as Brother Paul, and the founder of Hope International. Using his pious cover, Pattni manages to get close to several African presidents and ‘work with them’ on a number of shady deals.
Pattni’s greed is bolstered by his political connections, which enable him to get exceptional licenses to export gold from country to country. Just when it seemed the authorities might be onto him and prosecute him for his crimes, particularly stealing taxpayers’ money, he relocated to Zimbabwe from Kenya.
Pattni does not work alone, his accomplices include Ewan Macmillan and Alistair Mathias. Macmillan has been in and out of prison countless times from the age of 21. He stands accused of smuggling gold worth R436 million through an untraceable bank account in Dubai.
The more unassuming of the two, Mathias, earned his gold smuggling stripes in Ghana and as the group’s ‘financial architect’, builds money laundering schemes for corrupt politicians and criminals.
What stays with the viewer beyond the shocking revelations, is the lengths the iUnit journalists went to, to expose all of the things done behind closed doors. It successfully tracks the illicit and seemingly commonplace way corruption robs resource rich nations of their riches.
The documentary comes to show how even people who claim to be prophets cannot be trusted, as seen through Pattni and Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean diplomat who uses his government post to facilitate gold smuggling.
Investigative journalism of this kind clearly still has a place and purpose in exposing wrongdoing and holding people to account. All the episodes are free to stream on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel.
Vuvu rating: 7/10
FEATURED IMAGE: Al Jazeera Gold Mafia Cover. Photo: Screenshot/AlJazeera YouTube
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: /review-top-gun-sequels-triumph-is-less-reliance-on-computer-gimmicks. June 2022
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: I am all girls, May 2021
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: Dead places- not all ghosts are dead, May 2021
In this episode we take a look at the work of Joburg Theatre, through the eyes of the people that work at there. Justine, who has been at the theatre for more than 20 years, walks us through its history, and Mbongeni, a ballet dancer, tells us how he came to make this beautiful theatre […]