Thursday, 23 November 2017

Adaptation: Street Fighter II



The A-word.
It's the bane of cinephiles, everywhere.

That book you love; the comic you remember; the show you used to watch; the game you lost an entire summer playing? Oh, someone's adapted it and it's getting made into a movie! Whether a cause for pre-emptive celebration or foreboding caution, it leads to only one thing: expectation. And expectation is the death of the 'clean' movie-viewing experience; no matter how closely the film sticks to its source material, or how much it tries to distance itself, it will be faced with the hurdle of comparison.

And while the movie industry loves the pre-built marketing buzz of 'now a major motion picture!', they loathe the comparative references which will be made from the first review onwards. Because many punters will expect to get exactly the same reaction from a completely different medium, to a story they already know. And therein lies the problem.

In this monthly series, we'll look back at some of the most respected and best-loved properties which have made the perilous journey to the big screen; often with some controversy, and almost always with far too much hype. This isn't so much a review of the films themselves, more an appraisal of their suitability as an adaptation.




Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
Super Street Fighter II:
The New Challengers
(SNES)
Capcom (1993)

Moving on slightly from Mario but still at the heart of SNES gaming, Street Fighter II is the very paradigm of Bushnell's Law; ridiculously easy to learn, ridiculously difficult to master. The beat-em-up genre has been around as long as games have had the capability to represent fists of course, and the explosion of home computing in the 1980s raised the bar with side-scrolling, co-operative, multi-sprite brawling titles, and of course ushered in the End Of Level Boss. But as a sequel to their 1987 1-on-1 combat title, Capcom's Street Fighter II quickly developed a life of its own, in both arcades and living rooms around the world. The port to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the first, and is generally accepted as the purest, home-version of the game, and the title went on to have multiple re-releases with various tweaks and additions. For this comparison I've chosen to play 1993's Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, the reasons being that 1) characters debuting in this release of the game are included in the movie adaptation I'll be watching (plus in the bonus-round), and 2) again, it's the version I've got upstairs with my SNES.

So. It's a classic, obviously. The secret to Capcom's success with SFII wasn't so much the array of characters, each with differing speeds, fighting styles and special moves, but rather that the player can choose to control any of them to begin with (as opposed to the 'character unlocking' method). What's more, when the player is beaten by an opponent, they can choose a different avatar to have another try (or just keep on with the same one and extra determination/optimism). While the first version of the game held the four 'bosses' off-limits, meaning only the original eight characters were playable, everything from second, Champion Edition, release onwards puts them on the selection screen. Additionally, The New Challengers throws an extra four into the mix, bringing the total to sixteen. Beating the game using all the players at your disposal is easily possible. Beating the game using only your favourite requires dedication. I imagine it's also theoretically possible to work through the entire game as every individual character, in completely separate sessions. And while I'd love to have that amount of spare time on my hands, even I have to admit I'd use it for something else. But as I said, Bushnell's Law and all that.

So, shortly after SFII's domestic release (meaning kids could play in the comfort of their own homes and didn't have to keep weighing down machines with 10p coins), the game entered that secondary level whereby it became part of popular culture. While it didn't quite have the broad demographic appeal of Mario, the fanbase was no less committed. And although the merchandising opportunities are slightly narrower for a property which involves each of its principals knocking the living shit out of every other one, the range of dynamic internal character design lent itself to numerous toys*1, comics and anime movies, all of which have continued to be produced over the years, alongside sequel and spin-off entries on various consoles.

But at the heart of it all was one breakout game, held on a single 16mb cartridge. It's not the first beat-em-up (not even the first in its series), and it stands in a very crowded arena, but Capcom's Street Fighter II is one of the few that can be genuinely described as culturally iconic.

It's been 24 years and I can't always do a Hadouken.






Street Fighter
Street Fighter
Steven E. de Souza (1994)

First things first, I should point out now that I haven't actually seen this film before*2. And not that I was doubting anyone's previous judgement for a single second, but yeah it's bad. Indescribably bad. But bear with me dear reader, I'll try…

Despite the lack of narrative development in the famed 1-on-1 fighting title, the problem writer/director Steve de Souza faces here is not necessarily 'how do you adapt a game with no story?'. As of the New Challengers release, SFII actually has sixteen stories, some of which overlap, but are generally self-contained. The only points at which these characters meet in-game is, as noted above, when they're out in a street somewhere knocking the living shit out of each other. And that's not going to make for a great mainstream, family-friendly screenplay. Anyhow, Steve decided that the best way forward would be to write a new independent, thoroughly incoherent narrative, desperately shoehorning all your favourites together for no reason, many unrecognisably until they're either excessively introduced by the script or some other character name-checks them pointedly.

This really is all kinds of shite. Wobbly sets, costumes which look like they were designed for Flash Gordon but rejected and some of the worst ADR I've ever seen (and then heard around a second and a half later). From Raul Julia over-channeling his best Darth Vader*3, homages to schlocky Hong Kong action cinema, James Bond and 70s exploitation movies, the film would happily forget it's supposed to be adapting Street Fighter. That is, it would if it didn't have another yet character to reference, introduce or squander with alarming regularity.

The movie sets up a ticking-countdown-timer-ending before the fifth minute is out, then another one begins at 40 mins, then another one at around 80 mins. Incredible. Although I actually had to stop myself taking detailed notes after 22 minutes when a truck drives four feet away from Chun Li and she goes into a ground roll for no reason…

It seems clear that some of the cast thought they were taking part in something which would be better. I certainly won't blame them for trying, unfortunately everyone else has their tongue so firmly in-cheek that dialogue becomes impossible. Heading up the roster is Belgian Jean-Claude Van Damme as the American Guile, atrocious even by his own standards*4 and quite frankly so incompatible with the character that he'd have been more convincing as Balrog.

Australian Kylie Mingoue stars as the British Cammy, Chinese-American Byron Mann as the Japanese Ryu, American Andrew Bryniarski as the Russian Zangief*5, Native American Jay Tavare as the Spanish Vega, Native American Wes Studi as the Thai Sagat, and the Japanese sumo-wrestler Edmund Honda is now the Samoan-American Peter Tuiasosopo (although they've scripted his ethnicity into the film, that one's not just left out in the wild like the rest). Hey, at least Ken is still a white dude though, right? Shame Damian Chapa doesn't have the trademark blonde hair like his character, but that seems pretty fucking far down the list of issues to be honest. By the time Blanka emerges looking like Tina Turner playing The Mask, I'd all but given up.

How is this Street Fighter?

For an adaptation of a game which is 100% combat, there is surprisingly little fighting in the first hour (and even after that it's appallingly choreographed). But there's certainly no doubt that if you wanted to watch your sixteen favourite characters stripped of context, established backstory and jostling for position over 90 minutes of cinematic gibberish, this is definitely where you'd look...

How do you adapt a game with no story?
Well, how about you don't..?






Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
Street Fighter II:
The Animated Movie

Gisaburô Sugii (1994)

What's amazing about this is that the animated movie was released four months before the live action one. Which is to say that there was a period between August and December 1994 when Steve de Souza could, I'm pretty sure, watch the publicly-released anime adaptation of the world's most popular fighting game, whilst also being one of the few people on the planet to know what was in store with his own… version. I admire the man for not having Universal pull the plug and claim that the dog ate the master copy, at any rate.

There is more attitude, anger and adrenaline in the first five, dialogue-free, minutes of this film then the entirety of its live-action counterpart. Kenichi Imai's screenplay centres around M. Bison's terrorist organisation and with Ryu and Ken at the heart of the story once again, but this time hops around the globe to meet its characters, rather than contriving to have them all coincidentally be in Raul Julia's lounge together. What's more, individual characters' backstories from the game are maintained, proving that it can actually be done coherently.

The artwork is classic Japanese anime, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of the clunky charm of a 3D scene rendered in hand-drawn 2D. It's a style which lends itself perfectly to a story which originated in the same cultural arena, and the fight-scenes are dynamic without having to go into clinical detail (exactly like the game in that respect). Which brings us onto the most important aspect - there's a lot of fighting in this. And okay, the characters are scrapping often for no reason other than 'having a street fight', but that already makes the animated movie thematically closer to the game than the live-action will ever be.

The English-language dialogue is hardly Dickens, in either its writing or delivery, but it still manages to piss all over de Souza's work. The western release also has a slightly over-engineered grunge/industrial soundtrack, with John D'Andrea and Cory Lerios scoring the incidental music and songs dropped in from the likes of Korn and Alice In Chains.

Although Sugii's movie came well after the arcade and home-releases of Street Fighter II, everything in it adds depth to the characters and increases replay value of the Nintendo classic.

Best bit: Henchman and chief scientist Senoh unveils Shadowlaw's new covert surveillance system to his master:

M. Bison: Is it ready?
Senoh: Yesss… a masterpiece of computer technology; it's splendid. We've created the ultimate high-performance monitor cyborg. It's state of the art. The images it receives are immediately beamed via satellite to the super computer…
M. Bison: (narrowing eyes) Goood…


…showing that all you needed to impress a global crime-lord in 1994 was basic internet connectivity. 2017 would likely blow his tiny mind…




Is the original thing any good, though?
It's better than good, it's definitive.


Is the film-version any good, though?
Hahahahahahaha...


So, should I check out one, both or neither?
If you wish to see the live-action movie, it's filed between Morbid Curiosity and Fucking Told You So...


Oh, is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
In the game, there's not.
In the anime, there's not.
In the movie there actually might be, lost in a horrendous sound-mix, but I'm not going to go back and check...


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The original game's voice-cast appears to be a mystery. Seriously, not even Capcom are talking about it. However… the live-action movie has James McTeigue as the second-assistant director; he was first assistant director on Attack of the Clones*6. The anime movie (well, the English-dubbed one) features the voice of Zeb Orrelios.



*1 Although let's be honest, the 1993 G.I. Joe tie-in line is pretty dreadful. That said, I suppose the figures make an ideal artistic accompaniment to the 1994 live-action flick. And I deliberately haven't mentioned the single they released up there in the main review. But since you're lovely enough to read the footnotes, don't click on this link. I'm not saying it's worse than the same era's Mario Rap, but I also definitely am. [ BACK ]

*2 As buzzed as I was at the time about the mere prospect of a Street Fighter movie, younger readers should understand that even in the days before the advent of the domestic internet connections, the trailers and advance publicity for the Street Fighter movie began to paint an all-too-accurate picture of what was ultimately in store. A studio didn't have Rotten Tomatoes to blame for their movie tanking, back then. The feature was the subject of mockery and derision by the time it actually opened on UK screens, and the decision by my local cinema to not show it outweighed any curiosity I still harboured. Similarly, by the time the movie hit VHS shelves, I was not inclined to investigate. I have seen various clips over the intervening years, but this is the first time I have actually watched the film in its entirety. Because obviously, having pulled over 900 movies apart on this blog, I am now in a position to be incredibly forgiving to its perceived flaws... [ BACK ]

*3 Although credit where it's due, M.Bison wearing a smoking jacket and mixing cocktails is fucking gold. [ BACK ]

*4 Coincidentally to *2, the same decision was made by that same cinema to not show Van Damme's Timecop either, despite running trailers and having a full-on display stand in the foyer. It should surprise no-one to learn that when I finally caught that movie on video, I wished the time-travelling technology existed, if only so I could go back and warn myself not to bother…
[ BACK ]

*5 Whose Russian-accent keeps dipping into the 'Allo 'Allo representation of Italian… [ BACK ]

*6 I mean I love AotC, but seriously - imagine having that and the Street Fighter live-action movie on your CV… [ BACK ]



DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Review: Battle Of The Sexes





Battle Of The Sexes
Cert: 12A / 121 mins / Dir. Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton / Trailer



"You know where you are with sport, it's good. [...] In badminton if you win a rally, you get one point. In volleyball if you win a rally, you get one point. In tennis if you win a rally, you get 15 points for the first (or second) rallies you've won in that game (or 10 for the third), with a indeterminate amount assigned to the fourth rally, other than the knowledge that the game is won, providing one player is two ten-points (or 15-points) segments clear of their opponent. It's clear and simple."

~ Alan Partridge, 2011


Although written as a satire, this deliberate obfuscation is how my brain sees pretty much All The Sport anyway, so going to watch a film about one of them - not least the one used in the example above – had already put me into a place of some apprehension. I could tell from the trailer of course, that Battle Of The Sexes is more than a film about The Tennis. But at the same time, it is also very much about The Tennis.

But as Ron Howard demonstrated back in 2013, it’s possible to keep a sport-free cynic like me happy by telling a great story about people, rather than arbitrary gaming rules. And Simon Beaufoy's screenplay here is very much about the people. And about The Tennis, centering on the heavily publicised 1973 grudge-match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs, each champions in their respective gendered leagues. Along with the fantastic work from the wardrobe and makeup department, cinematographer Linus Sandgren captures the sunbleached graininess of 1970s California, and it’s a feeling which comes through the performances as a result, with a visual and narrative symmetry increasing as the story unfolds.

Emma Stone is on fantastic form as King, although it feels slightly awkward to note that this is no real surprise from a performer of her calibre (awards will follow, and justifiably so). Playing her unequal opposite is Steve Carell, although not the real villain of the piece of course; he’s the showman, the buffoon. And as surprisingly nuanced as Carell's performance is, with the sheepish grin, heavy glasses and ludicrous sideburns, you get the feeling he’s only ever two steps away from going full Brick Tamland again. Andrea Riseborough also lends great support, even if her character suffers at the hands of a screenplay which keeps jumping lanes.

The central struts of the love story, the sporting-underdog parable and the exposure of institutional misogyny are all impeccably executed, but the film has trouble blending them together, and it ends up feeling like directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton are spinning plates in three different rooms. A certain amount of this is obviously down to King’s propensity for partitioning sections of her life, but it makes for a slightly disconnected viewing experience. That said, even a non-sport viewer like me was impressed by the climactic match (not that we see much actual tennis before that point), since as well as actually playing against each other, the cast are, presumably, recreating the precise scoring moves from the game*1?

The whole thing is a little heavy-handed in places of course, but that’s entirely forgivable, given the times it’s portraying and quite frankly the times it’s playing in. Overall, Battle Of The Sexes is a remarkable story of perseverance and hope. But ultimately, I still didn’t care about All The Tennis…*2



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
All The Tennis.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if it specifically piques your interest. The 70s aesthetic means you shouldn't lose too much by watching this in your living room.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Ultimately, yes.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Perhaps not best best, but it'll certainly be one of the most celebrated.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Nope.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Nope.
I'd have put one in every time someone belts a tennis ball
.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The voice of Clone Wars Nute Gunray is in this. By which I mean Tom Kenny is in this, not just his voice.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 I should hope so anyway. Otherwise the tennis historians in the audience will be watching going "well that's not how that shot played out; ridiculous". And much the same as the aforementioned Rush, when I sat down for Battle Of The Sexes I didn’t actually know how the climactic game ended. Although obviously, had Billie Jean King actually lost, there’d be little or no point making a film just to rub her nose in it, given what it all stood for. [ BACK ]

*2 And I know you're saying "yeah, but it's not about the tennis" - and I know exactly why you're saying that, but this film is very much also About The Tennis. It's just a game mate, leave it. [ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Review: Justice League





Justice League (2D)
Cert: 12A / 120 mins / Dir. Zack Snyder / Trailer



Well, this is definitely a film. (Warner Bros, you can have that one for the back of the DVD cover if you like). DC's cinematic interpreters bring their equivalent of Phase One to a head with the long awaited Justice League, featuring Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck's Batman saving the world from a horny god with three evil boxes*1 by recruiting The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and concocting a plan to exhume and resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) to lend a hand. There will be scenes.

First things first, Justice League is disposable, undemanding fun. Mostly. Gadot and Miller are by far the standout stars, the former arguably bringing the film's only real sincerity to her role, the latter some much needed humour. Cavill is on slightly shakier ground, although that's largely down to how the Man of Steel is treated in the film, and Batfleck still doesn't get his moment in the spotlight, sadly*2.

Things get off to a staggered start as the team are introduced one by one, as well as the threat they'll be facing, and it's there we begin running into problems (see footnote 1). With the best will in the world, the whole thing reeks of its re-writes, asking more questions than it attempts to answer*3. The customary act-three carnage begins in act-two, followed by a dip that's far longer than the breath-catching pause needed. The resulting finale is a brightly-coloured CGI panic-attack, with the team becoming little more than NPCs in a game you're watching someone else play. I didn't not-enjoy the film, but I have to admit to not actually caring about a single character, situation or plot point therein. And that's not a good sign.

Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon try to show DC's world in chaos, and succeed better than I think they meant to. Much like Superman's upper lip, Justice League is an imperfect oddity that's making the best of a troubled production, but never quite convinces…



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Dawn of Justice.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you're going to watch a superhero movie, that massive screen will be the best place, yes.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Kinda.
Although DC's moving of the narrative goalposts has done the pacing no favours at all
.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Nope.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Nope.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Jav Mefran's in this.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…
^^ I found this amiable enough to be a 5/7 movie, but I'm taking a point off for Superman's CGI'd upper-lip. A ridiculous situation with an inexcusable outcome*4.


*1 Probably best if you don't ask. Much like David Thewlis' Ares from Wonder Woman, Steppenwolf is a CGI'd one-dimensional baddie with only half-dimension of actual character (think of a crossover of Malekith and Apocalypse), chasing a trio of macguffins whose only purpose is apparently to evoke memories of Marvel's Infinity Stones and Tolkiens's Rings. Without going into any detail, let's just say that his eventual defeat is brought about by a crisis in the writers-room when they realise that they aren't allowed the cojones to have any of their Heroes™ actually deal a killing blow to a sentient being (man, beast, god, or otherwise). It's an insult to not only the audience, but also DC's flagship characters. Well done, guys. [ BACK ]

*2 Although he's off again in Justice League. If you remember, Bruce Wayne's raison d'etre for killing Supes in Dawn of Justice was that, and I quote, "if we believe there's a one percent chance that he is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty". Which is clearly mathematical (not to mention moral) horseshit. This time round he's learned his lesson of course, and during the discussion of digging up the body of Kal El with a view to bringing him back to life (don't ask), proffers: "If there's even a fraction of a chance it could work-". It's just as well Bruce inherited his fortune off his old man, because he sure as shit wouldn't win anything in a casino with that grasp of probability…
[ BACK ]

*3 To wit, and in no particular order of importance:
Q. Bruce Wayne and Alfred have quite a nice conversation near the start of the film about being left behind by a changing world. Was this going to be a running subtext at one point in the screenplay's development? Because it doesn't rear its head again.
Q. If Wonder Woman can move faster than bullets (shown in this film) and Superman can move faster than bullets (pretty much known anyway, I think), what exactly is The Flash bringing to this party other than sarcasm and millennial-angst?
Q. Why has Aquaman - the superhero who lives in the sea - got that straggly hair and beard? The barnet's not practical for swimming with, and he's getting out of the sea/river and just air-drying. He's going to smell like a wet dog most of the time.
Q. What the hell is Cyborg's dad playing at? Given that he's Miles Dyson out of Terminator 2, you'd think he'd know better than to arse around with robotics, 'trying to help'.
Q. Given that even the trailer throws in that gag about Diana Prince doing "nothing interesting" at the weekend, and the fact that the Bat-Signal can only realistically be used at night, why didn't Steppenwolf attack at 10:30 on a Monday morning? Or better still, during prison visiting-hours? The Justice League wouldn't be about, it'd be a piece of piss…
Q. Does… does Amber Heard think she's doing A British Accent™? Oh, mate… [ BACK ]

*4 Much like Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, it looks absolutely fine until the shot requires actual movement. Then it's like watching that devil-kid off the AA adverts all over again… [ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Review: Daddy's Home 2





Daddy's Home 2
Cert: 12A / 100 mins / Dir. Sean Anders / Trailer



Will Ferrell falls over six times in this movie. He's by no means alone in pursuing this basic comic staple, but on the leaderboard of Daddy's Home 2 pratfalls, Will's right there at the top. This festive follow-up to the 2015 movie which provided the lighthearted scheduling-alternative to The Force Awakens is an under-written, erratically paced, haphazardly directed exercise in box-ticking, button-pushing cinematic gibberish. John Lithgow falls over three times.

Helmed by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, the two performers who effectively wrote the 21st-century appendix on The Formulaic Studio-Comedy Textbook, the 100 minute run-time is a collection of jokes they did last time, the jokes you'd expect them to do this time, and a climactic a cappella version of Do They Know It's Christmas. I wish I was making that up. Meanwhile, poor Linda Cardellini pads around the back of the screenplay looking for someone who's at least heard of the Bechdel Test, never mind up for trying to pass it. Added to the roster are the aforementioned Lithgow and Mel Gibson, as the central pair's dads. They're both quite fun*1, if only because they haven't stretched this shit to breaking point already, like their screen-sons, but in the end this is an easy paycheck and they treat it accordingly. If you've seen the trailer for Daddy's Home 2, you don't need to watch the film*2.

But it's better than A Bad Moms Christmas.


So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Well, writer/director Sean Anders is hoping you enjoyed and memorised the first Daddy's Home, because in the sequel he doesn't bother to introduce or re-establish any of the returning characters.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
This is not a cinema film, despite having its entire climactic sequence take place in a cinema with a sense of completely unearned smugness.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?



Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not even the best work in this two-film series.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There might be one in the cinema scene, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
Let's say no
.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Qui-Gon Jinn's in this, after a fashion.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 That said, Gibson needs to tread carefully. The troubled™ star clawed back some much-needed respectability earlier this year with Hacksaw Ridge, but this comedy turn leaves him standing in the entrance to De Niro Alley, an apparently one-way street of ill-will and diminishing casting opportunities. [ BACK ]

*2 Or to put it another way, You Don't Need To Watch The Film. Glad we cleared that up. [ BACK ]

DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.