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Critics reviews
Operation Avalanche
Matt Johnson United States, 2016
The writer-director has an obvious affection for the period and takes great pains to re-create it, but he does the viewer no favors by starring or by shooting dialogue that sounds like something from an improv-comedy sketch. A send-up like this works far better for a few minutes on the small screen (see Documentary! or Drunk History); at feature length it becomes a stylistic exercise, like a kid mugging for the camera through an Instagram filter.
September 29, 2016
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The diversions can’t mask the project’s overall dearth of creativity, nor justify its resuscitation of an idea so hoary that a previous version starred O.J. Simpson. In terms of sheer technique, the film has been executed about as ably as one could desire. All that’s missing is a compelling reason for it to exist.
September 15, 2016
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Packed with peekaboo shots through curtains and door grilles, “Operation Avalanche” weaves well-known conspiracy theories into a goofily entertaining satire of youthful ambition co-opted as a tool of government intrigue… The look at times is early “Twilight Zone” (achieved with a custom-built camera and vintage French lenses), while Tristan Zerafa’s cool visual effects — which sneak Kubrick into the action using only still photographs — make the lunar lunacy work.
September 15, 2016
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The story is less interesting than Johnson’s realization of it. The director convincingly splices real-life archival footage of NASA and other 1960s-era settings into staged scenes… The effect suggests a fusion of Zelig and JFK, and Johnson reaffirms the sense of out-of-time discombobulation with grainy, washed-out cinematography and a meta emphasis on images within images within images.
September 12, 2016
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Compelling in a larger sense even when lingers it on its goofier ingredients (the scenes where the pair stage the moon landing drag a bit), “Operation Avalanche” generally manages to make its outrageous premise stick. It’s easy to imagine a lesser treatment of the material in more conventional terms, particularly as the entire genre of comedic thrillers has gone largely neglected in recent years. With “Operation Avalanche,” Johnson resurrects it with a much-needed bite.
January 30, 2016
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Operation Avalanche is, in the end, a clever entertainment, but all the work that Johnson, Boles, and co. have put in – the savvy recreations and incorporation, the documentary-style filming, not to mention plugging into a world of conspiracies both imagined and real – gives it extra resonance… The earnest enthusiasm with which Operation Avalanche begins, and the paranoia and fear toward which it proceeds, chart the course of an entire nation.
January 30, 2016
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A super 8mm / 16mm pastiche of conspiracy theory movies and Woody Allen’s Zelig, the film is a supremely entertaining ride through the main characters’ attempts to film the fakery after finding out that the Americans wont be able to make the desired lunar contact in time to beat the Russians.
January 28, 2016
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The period pastiche is pretty remarkable: the movie begins in the best faux-period 16mm black-and-white I’ve seen, and the stock’s faux degradation is equally convincing… It’s all wildly impressive technically (even if Johnson’s very Canadian pronunciation of “sorry” gives the game away a bit), but increasingly grim for no reason I can tell — if there’s an actual political point to this besides scratching tantalizing alternate-history conspiracy theories and their allure, I couldn’t discern it.
January 23, 2016
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Much about Operation Avalanche astonishes. There is the NASA feat, doubly impressive for how seamlessly the footage has been torqued in postproduction to accord with the period – anachronisms such as cellphones having been scrubbed out by the film’s scrupulous effects team.
December 31, 2015
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