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All posts by Julia Breakey

  • Last week in trailers: Annihilation, South Africa’s Catching Feelings, David Bowie doc & more

    It's not a good time to release trailers: Star Wars: The Last Jedi just came out, it's almost Christmas, and everyone is hyper-focussed on taking a much-needed break. Unwilling to compete for that attention, major studios have avoided releasing trailers -- which is why this week we have a hodgepodge collection of indie sci-fis, a local drama, and cheesy Christmas fun. Annihilation Based on the eponymous novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation tells the story of Lena, a biologist who volunteers to explore an environmental disaster zone that seriously injured her husband. The film is directed by Ex Machina's Alex Garland and stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa...

  • Lens Studio lets anyone create lenses for Snapchat

    Snap's latest desktop app Lens Studio lets anyone from students to full-time developers create their own lenses for Snapchat and its users. The app lets users design any kind of augmented reality lenses, including static and animated objects, ones with interactive taps, and ones that show a "window into another world". Users can then share their completed designs with friends using a Snapcode that will unlock the lens for 24 hours. The app includes guides, templates, and 3D modelling software. Lens Studio also offers challenges -- like the current one accepting submissions for New Year's-themed lenses -- in which creators can win prizes like an iPad...

  • Facebook sees you when you’re creeping, rewards you with repeat content

    Will Facebook ever stop trying to be the absolute creepiest it can be? Probably not. In a small update issued to the News Feed this week, the company will be monitoring the pages users "proactively seek out" and offering more of that content on their News Feed. The company also believes that "repeat viewership matters", and will show users more content from creators and publishers that they return to "week after week". The latest Facebook update accesses user's behaviour to give them content from creators they already watch The update is relatively small (and most users probably won't even notice), but it's yet another...

  • Stars Wars: The Last Jedi: frenetic, powerful, a joy to behold

    Stars Wars: The Last Jedi does not start well. The exposition plods, the editing jars, and the dialogue feels unnatural. Just as emotional moments pull you in, director Rian Johnson rips you away to comic relief. Every time you try to reconnect with the characters you've missed, you're met with a quick two-second shot of some (albeit very pretty) landscapes. But as I caught myself thinking the worst (could this film be bad?), Rian Johnson hit his stride so brilliantly I couldn't help but stare in awe for the remaining two hours. Because The Last Jedi -- despite its clumsy open...

  • Messenger doubled its real-time video chats to 17b in 2017

    Facebook Messenger has had a pretty interesting 2017, despite some embarrassing mistakes like that Stories clone "Day" no one used. According to the company, there were 17 billion real-time video chats on the platform between January and November this year. Messenger boasts 1.3 billion active users a month -- meaning the average user was only making around 13 calls a year. Facebook Messenger boasted 17 billion video chat sessions in 2017 -- an average of only 13 per user More popular than video chats were GIFs, which were sent 18 billion times in 2017. But most popular? The 500 billion emojis sent in just one year....

  • South Africans were asking Google about Dumi Masilela and bitcoin in 2017

    Google has released its year in search, and while the global results are interesting (Cash Me Outside was the top-searched meme, sadly), South Africans had a locally-specific year filled with tropical storms, high-profile fights, and cryptocurrency. According to Google, South Africa's top search of 2017 was for the late Dumi Masilela, who was killed in a hijacking earlier this year. Masilela was best known for his role as Sifiso Ngema on Rhythm City, though he was also a musician and former soccer player. The second-most searched? Zimbabwe -- the country that endured the most this past month. And in third place was Cyclone Dineo, which battered...

  • SA’s box office: There’s no Justice Fatigue

    It's Justice League's last week at the top of South Africa's box office (Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out this Friday) and what a time it's been. The superhero film held onto number one for an impressive four weeks, and it needs the win after after pulling in the lowest worldwide gross of the DCEU franchise. But how did the other films fare this weekend? (8 - 10 December) Bad Moms Christmas couldn't sustain its opening week momentum and crashed like a hungover wine mom on Boxing Day. The film dropped two spots down to fourth, despite not competing with any chart newbies. Justice League is enjoying its...

  • #RhodesWar: Expulsion of Rhodes students ignites online outrage

    #RhodesWar, an online campaign supporting expelled Rhodes University students, was trending in the top spot on Twitter this morning as many took to the platform to express their outrage. Two Rhodes University students were excluded from the institution for life last month over their involvement in students' anti-rape protests in 2016. Another was reportedly excluded for a period of five years. Two Rhodes University students were expelled for life for being part of a vigilante group that targeted rape suspects on campus The students were found guilty of assault, kidnapping, insubordination, and defamation for being part of a mob justice group that targeted rape suspects...

  • Netflix users watched 1 billion hours of content a week in 2017

    Netflix doesn't like giving out numbers -- we still don't know exactly how many South Africans are on the platform, for example. But the company has revealed that in 2017, users around the world were watching over 140-million hours of content a day. And according to the company? It all amounted to over a billion a week. But that's not all its year-end blog post revealed -- so here are some of the more interesting facts. There was a user who watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl every day for the entire year. My guess for the masochist? The hosts...

  • Bullied Keaton Jones went viral, then Twitter learned of his racist family

    A young boy named Keaton Jones went viral yesterday after a video of him discussing being bullied gained the attention of A-list celebrities -- but the boy's family instantly dropped in esteem when photos of them holding the Confederate flag were revealed. This is Keaton Jones, he lives in Knoxville and he has a little something to say about bullying.pic.twitter.com/coyQxFp33V — Everything TN (@Everything_TN) December 9, 2017 In the original viral video, Keaton asks what the point of bullying is. When his mom prompts him to explain what the bullies do to him, Keaton says they make fun of his nose, call him ugly, and...

  • Here’s where South Africans can watch the Golden Globe nominees

    The 2018 Golden Globe nominees were announced yesterday, but if you're a South African reading the list, you may be feeling a little out of the loop considering most of the listed films haven't even been released yet. So if you're dying to catch up before awards season hits next year, here's where, when, and how you can watch the nominees (legally) in SA. This list only includes Best Picture and acting nominees. Available now Dunkirk 3 Nominations: Best Picture (Drama), Best Director for Christopher Nolan, Best Original Score (Motion Picture) Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk (review) is a war film about the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II. It...

  • Uber settles medical record lawsuit with woman raped by driver

    Uber has capped off its terrible 2017 by settling a lawsuit with a woman who accused top executives of illegally obtaining her medical records after she was raped by a driver in New Delhi, India in 2014. The anonymous US resident sued the company for intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, and defamation. The woman claimed that then-CEO Travis Kalanick, president of business in Asia Eric Alexander, and senior vice president of business Emil Michael all believed her rape to be a conspiracy by rival companies. Her lawyer alleged that the company sought her medical records in an attempt to...

  • Last week in trailers: Major sci-fis, good girls gone rogue, and more

    There are 16 new trailers this week, and all of them are at least somewhat interesting. So buckle up, because Christmas just came early. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Dinosaurs. Explosions. Chris Pratt. Is there anything more this Jurassic World sequel needed? (Okay, maybe an explanation as to why the island is blowing up. But that's hardly relevant.) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens in South Africa 8 June 2018. Ready Player One Steven Spielberg's much-hyped Ready Player One finally has an official trailer that reveals actual plot. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline (for which Cline is currently writing a sequel), the film tells of Wade Watts, a futuristic teen who finds himself on...

  • JK Rowling criticised for supporting Johnny Depp

    Following over a year of criticism for casting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, JK Rowling has come out with a vague and passive statement claiming the move to be "the right thing". In the statement, Rowling writes that she and director David Yates "naturally considered the possibility of recasting" when news broke of his abuse against ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp was accused by then-wife Amber Heard of physical and verbal abuse in 2016, and Heard's team has provided various evidence to her claims in the form of photos and text messages. The former couple released...

  • Here are the YouTube videos South Africa was watching in 2017

    YouTube this week announced the most watched videos of 2017 worldwide -- but there aren't exactly the videos South Africa was watching. Instead, South Africans were keeping loyal to local artists, Nigerian comedians, and beautiful women. Standard. (This list is of general trending videos, and not music videos from major labels.) 10. Simphiwe Ngema remembers late husband Dumisani Masilela Who: Eyewitness News When: 9 August Views: 1 million. 9. Quick thinking Porsche driver outwits an armed hijacker Who: Crime Intelligence & Community Awareness When: 13 May 2017 Views: 4.4 million. 8. Maths Teacher (Mark Angel Comedy) Who: MarkAngelComedy When: 16 June Views: 7 million. 7. Uzalo Mamlambo in real life Who: South African Videos When: 8 May Views: 1.6 million. 6. New Durban bhenga Dance 2017 Who: DangerFlex SA When: 26 January Views: 955 600. 5. Sipho Ngwenya feat Thinah...