Operation Avalanche

In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.


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  • ★★★★½ review by ava davis on Letterboxd

    when they showed jfk at the beginning my dad went "wow, whenever i see him, i think, what a shame!" my dad is not going to see jackie (2016)

    also my dad liked this so you know it's good

  • ★★★★★ review by Truman Segal on Letterboxd

    Part 2 of 2016 Catch Up

    Operation Avalanche got so intense so fast.

    It's clearly fictional, but entirely convincing and very interesting.

    If you know me by now, it wouldn't be a surprise a love letter to the Cold War and filmmaking would be an easy 5 stars on my behalf.

    Top 5 of the year.

    A terrific soundtrack as well, Matt Johnson has an incredible taste in music, or, well, everything really. I'd love to hang out with this guy.

    I just can't get over how intense Operation Avalanche was, Jesus Christ.

    Also, seeing Kubrick on set of 2001? Priceless.

  • ★★★★ review by Jay Cheel on Letterboxd

    Really enjoyed this. It's not quite as tightly packaged as The Dirties, but it's entertaining and ambitious. Looking forward to a rewatch.

  • ★★★½ review by Sigfred Storstrand on Letterboxd

    One of the most entertaining conspiracy theories out there is the moon-landing, and Operation Avalanche does a magnificent job of expanding on the myth, and adding a ridiculous, yet almost plausible explanation for how and why it happened.

    Matt Johnson blew me away with The Dirties a couple of years back, with one of the most hard-hitting movies i had ever seen. The style completely carries over, and so does Johnsons passion. This dude knows how to do mockumentaries. He creates a narrative that flows with so much life that its unbelievable.

    I hate found footage. I could probably count one one hard how few found footage movies i've ever even partially enjoyed. And two of those are now by the hands of Johnson. And that i have to give him mad props for. The hidden camera adds personality, and like few found footage flicks, it makes incredible sense. It's not a dumb gimmick just for emotional effect. This movie could never work without the format.

    Choosing to film it on film was beautiful. The 60s look is completely nailed, and the scenes where they manage to shoehorn themselves into the NASA boardroom and next to Stanley Kubrick looks fantastic. I believe this is so well made that you could timetravel back 40 years with it, and make people believe this was real.

    What damages though, in comparison with the masterpiece that i consider The Dirties to be, is the gravity of the subject. While toying with the CIA and NASA is good fun, its mostly that. Fun. The Dirties delved much more down into the human psyche , and had a much stronger focus on character, while Operation Avalanche was much more high concept.

    And i do feel its fair to pit these movies up against each other, because of how similar they feel. Johnson uses the exact same storytelling techniques by showing them editing the documentary inside the documentary, but using the montages, by having the cameraman capture things he never should. By showing the faltering friendship of the slightly meglomanic main-character and the rational sidekick. There really are so many similarities, and it doesnt damage the movie, but it also challenge the narrative format as i wish it would try to do.

    Operation Avalanche is a great movie. Matt Johnson has found a style unlike any other, and he seems to be sticking with it. And it works like hell. Operation Avalanche is definitely one the indies that really stick out for me from 2016, and i think he is on his way to a great career.

    You won't regret picking this up, i assure you. Its cool, is hilarious, its smart. Its everything you want from a mockumentary and more. Just make sure you also pick up The Dirties, as a superior compaionpiece.

  • ★★★★ review by Leo (Willem) van der Zanden 💙 on Letterboxd

    Added to: 2016 Ranked

    Crossing this one of my Hype-a-de-Hype-List

    The newest film by Matt Johnson, savior of student films, is a powerful reminder of man's lust to tell stories. Just like with his previous effort, the widely acclaimed The Dirties, Johnson goes for a mockumentary-film with a tight mix of comedy and drama. Just like with The Dirties, his love for film prevails in the complex yet eventually pretty rewarding plot about a young team of NASA-employees who decide to fake the moon landing in the most convoluted of ways.

    Although the plot lends itself perfectly for a couple of hilarious scenes in which we see the team slowly find a way to complete their hoax, their is also a continuous sense of dread throughout the film, mainly of course, because it is drenched from beginning to end with reality. This crazy story is perfectly fitted within reality by some immensely precise improvisational sequences, editing and some incredible special effects considering the small budget. It might feel cartoonish at some times because of Johnson's true to the heart feeling for humor, but this easily gets counterplayed by some heavily dramatic scenes that remind us just how true this story could have been.

    In the end it is a film so simple in its setup yet so effective in its outcome, that one can't but wonder if this is really how it all went down so many years ago. Mockumentary filmmaking at its best! Filmmaking at its best. Making people question reality by a play of fact and fiction. Johnson's work is just plain wonderful!!

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