Operation Avalanche (2016)

13 Mar 2016

silly humor
physical comedy
fucking hilarious

secrets of life
thought provoking thinking
empathy and sympathy

fresh perspective
layered meaning (good for over-thinking/multiple viewing)

excellent camera work
immersive atmosphere
beautiful scenes
fitting soundtrack

unexpected outcome
acceptable suspense (developments predicted minutes before)
exceptional suspense (developments not predicted)

intense action
realistic effects

untraceable (natural) acting


a great comedic story “validating” one of the most fabulous conspiracy fables. It truly shines in being meta about narratives and filmmaking. Although entertained by Greenaway’s fake documentaries, this wins by being a fake of fake documentaries (with shots at NASA etc. made under the pretense of shooting student documentaries). Not to mention it can be put on the same list as 8+1/2 due to filmmaking cameos (which is pointed out by the SXSW alum). Like the makers’ comments at the end, trying to convince an audience about something that you believe to have zero ground truth is a fantastic exercise in both imagination and expression.

But to make this film great, it is also deep as a character study. we get to see the outcomes of the ambitous and daring versus the cautious and conscientious in a political environment. Eventually, the movie proposes the exact thesis as one in Roads to Serfdom: only certain people gets to the “top.” Luckily for us, the real life story of Moon landing was not as tempered as fictionalized here due to the levels of technics and expertise (which provides a basis for others’ and my old fantasy that technical knowledge and skills bring objectiveness and ethics, which is sadly disproven by many cases such as that of Bieberbach. Hence humanities education should never be ignored. Oh lord we got on a different train of thought again.)

the info about Apollo archives being delegated to other national/federal archiving agencies not able to readily provide public access as a result of funding constraints is rather disheartening. I suppose it’s good that Matt’s crew has now digitized a bunch due to research for this film!

finally one last bit of quibble: Matt’s stereotypical Canadian “sorry” did brought me out of suspention of disabelief for a few moments. wanted to ask him after the show but… see below. Maybe I will run into him later this week?

  • side note: As benefits of SXSW volunteering, I got a rare oppourtunity to shake the “key culprits’” hands right after my first showing. I suppose I felt some nervousness almost comparable to when I need to speak in public without preparation… let’s just say that a few comments and questions (most raised here) did not air tonight.