Operation Avalanche is a 2016 indie film directed and staring Matt Johnson. If you don't know who that is, don't worry. Neither do I. But he's in this film. Despite the name of this film which sounds like the title to the next Bond installment, it is not an action title of any kind. Instead it's a fictional history of the crew that faked the moon landing. Of course, unless you're Alex Jones, the moon landing wasn't faked--so this film rewrites history to show us HOW it could have been.
Despite its seemingly farcical nature at the beginning of the plot, audience members quickly get sucked into a partially stressful, partially satirical world, all through the lens of a group of junior FBI agents masquerading as junior documentary film makers.
Yes, that's a lot to get your head around. The deception goes so deep in this film that, suddenly, half way through the film, you have no idea who to trust and who not to, and since the film is shot nearly entirely in the documentary style, you feel as though you're part of the precarious situation.
While the cast of characters is sometimes frustrating in their lack of foresight, the film often benefits from this. In fact, the lack of foresight makes the whole thing more real.
Those who like quirky, independent films that are dryly funny, but at times distressingly serious and real about the Cold War and the FBI's actions during that era, will enjoy this film. If you didn't watch the trailer, it's certainly worth the 2 minutes.
There's something quite wonderful, and I think it stems from my childhood, about picking up a fantasy novel and being whisked away on some adventure or other. I don't get the craving too often, but when I do, it must be sated, and typically is rather easily.
This last week I read Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. Now, if you're familiar with some of his other work you'll at least know the world this book operates in. I read his first novel (or the first book in his first novel ) Theft of Swords, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but that was some years back. Sullivan said Age of Myth is the first in a 5 or 6 book series that is basically a Silmarillion type of thing for his 9 other novels (collected in 6 volumes). While only the first book of Age of Myth has been released (Age of Swords a.k.a book 2 comes out July 25th) I ways like starting a the chronological beginning of things. The author has also said that Age of Myth is just as good an entry point into his world as his original series.
So, what is Age of Myth about?
Something that I like about the book and plot, one I don't think is seen all to often in fantasy, is the formation of a new empire. When I say that, this means there isn't a lot of "this guy is kind, but that guy wants to be king, and then there is this betrayal and etc... ." But there actually is some of that. Just less than usual from fantasy. Age of Myth, to me, can be most closely compared to "Beginnings Part 1 and 2" of Avatar: Legend of Kora. In both Kora and Age of Myth nobody really knows how magic works, why it works, or who gave magic to the inhabitants of this world. While Kora takes two 30 minute episodes to explain this, Sullivan will be giving us 5 or 6 books.
As I read Age of Myth I felt as though I could see the animations, much like the ones I referenced above, playing out in my head. The whole story has cinematic quality to it. This isn't to say Age of Myth isn't without some typical fantasy tropes. There's the reluctant hero, the mystic, the magician, all that stuff. But where Sullivan succeeds is playing all these tropes up and showing how aware he is of these tropes. Often times the best thing an artist can do to cover up over used tropes, plot holes, etc, is by pointing them out.
So who should read this?
Anyone who enjoys a good fantasy story. If you like origin stories in which characters are just beginning to understand their world, part adventure, part discovery, you'll likely enjoy this book. I know I'm excited for the next one.
When I watched the first couple seasons of Sherlock, the BBC version, you know, with Benedict (Cumberbund) Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I was thrilled. Holmes was such an intriguing character. He was witty, arrogant, funny, and always right even when it seemed like he wasn't. Then season two ended with Sherlock's "death." And of course, anyone who was anyone knew Sherlock hadn't actually died because--well, the show must go on.
I approached season three with great excitement only to find the reasoning for Sherlock's faked death was awful. It was solely for Watson's benefit, and so complex and ridiculous it strained verisimilitude. Oh, that and the main bad guy, Moriarty died at the end of that season also.
Season three was a horrible disappointment as Sherlock yearns to discover who Watson's to be bride is, and (surprise) she's a secret agent.
Sherlock goes from an awesome detective, skilled in deduction, to a petty man-child who's jealous of his friend for being in a relationship. And not only is a whole season dedicated to this, but it spills into season four.
At the end of season three Sherlock shoots someone in the face and kills them--Sherlock is arrested and seems to be off to jail, just before a message from the departed Moriarty pops up in the British government's computer system. They release Sherlock so he can discover what's going on. This, unfortunately, takes all the tension out of the series, as consequences simply don't apply to the protagonist of this piece.
In season four--it doesn't get any better. In fact, it continues its downward spiral. Watson's wife dies, which makes all of season three pretty inconsequential, and then the second episode is just Sherlock trying to win Watson's trust back--something we've seen before in season two. The final episode, which had an intriguing set up, was, in the end, cheesy in the extreme and horribly contrived.
When Sherlock finds out he has a sister who is also a prodigy, he gains access to where she has been held, a prison, only to find she's taken control of said prison. She puts Mycroft, Sherlock, and Watson through a series of tests, only in the end to be forgiven for killing a ton of people because, you know, Family.
Sorry for the spoilers, but I needed to vent. This series had such potential the first two seasons, and now--"utter rubbish," as Sherlock would say.