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X-Men: Apocalypse

Warning! Massive anecdote about myself incoming!

When I was in my first semester at the dffb, we had to partake in a directing seminar led by the wonderful Marin Marchewski – a seminar in which we had to, well, direct a scene that was handed to us without altering any of the dialogues. Needless to say the dialogue was terrible, and 24 year-old bitchy Bert was annoyed. So during our flat’s Halloween party, I snapped two girls – one dressed as Sally from the Nightmare before Christmas, one as Lara Croft – and made them perform the scene handcuffed to chairs in a boiler room I hung full of lolcats.

The result was terrible, but thankfully, the layers upon layers of irony in that 3-minute piece of art saved 24 year-old Bert’s skin. After all, I knew it was terrible, right? Marin cast his critical eye on my work, rattling the keychain in his pocket as he always did, calling it a “persiflage of nothing in particular”. Then, in another one of his typical mannerisms, he proclaimed “we should go for a smoke”.

We stood on the balcony, him dragging his cigarette, me enjoying the artificial background noise blaring from the speakers at Potsdamer Platz, feeling particularly smug. Then, he looked over to me and, with one sentence, smashed my smugness to smittereens:

“If only you’d have tried, you might have learned something.”

That moment might have been the single most defining experience at film school. It’s one of the few occasions where I didn’t learn about the craft, but about myself – about not hiding between irony because I’m insecure about my work, but just flat-out going all-out and taking the risk of getting hurt.

It was also a sentence that popped into my mind during Apocalypse.

“The third one’s always the worst”, Jean grey suddenly says, walking out of the theatre, talking about Return of the Jedi while she was actually referring to the Third X-Men in the original trilogy, The Last Stand. Yet in that moment, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling the psychic girl was talking about the very movie she was in – which is also a bloated mess overstuffed with paper-thin characters.

In that moment, I knew Apocalypse had quit trying. Apocalypse knew it was terrible, and it just went with it like I had. Jean Grey was the lolcat hanging from the wall, feeling smug because she knew she was part of something bad – and that make it okay.

If only Marin Marchewski had been there for Jean.