Surf's up 

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This is the time of year when the smart Whistler locs leave town. Those who planned ahead will escape the rain and slow season work schedules to go live in the sun and drink in the sand and catch waves until the mountains open. The rest of us will shiver, eat Kraft Dinner and alternate between staring at the snowline and watching movies until that fateful day when the lifts start turning.

But this week at the Village 8 we can bridge the gap a bit with Friday's opening of a based-on-true surf drama called Chasing Mavericks. A young surfer with a hard life falls under the tutelage of a local legend. By learning to work together and trust and appreciate the simple things in life, the kid paddles into one of the biggest waves on the planet and, whaddya know, they each learn something about themselves too.

Chasing Mavericks looks like The Karate Kid on the beach but director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, LA Confidential) has a history of delivering quality when you least expect it. Certainly there seems to be all the usual extreme sports archetypes — absent father, rough home life, alcoholic mother, lone-wolf mentor, etc. — but when the mother is played by still-incredible-after-all-these-years Elizabeth Shue, things start looking up.

Chasing Mavericks may not be the timeless epic Blue Crush was, but the waves are big (really big), the sun is bright and Hanson builds enough tension to make this one a viable option for landlocked Whistlerites looking to dream a little surf.

Or you could watch a giant chicken statue dry-hump a car. Fun Size is a teeny-bopper Halloween comedy from Nickelodeon about two way-hotter-than-they-act girls who just wanna have fun (good clean fun of course) with some slovenly skater-type dude but instead they spend all of Halloween searching for the one chick's little brother, a loner/dorky type who ends up having the best time of anyone. And, of course, all the kids learn valuable lessons about responsibility, family, friendship and what's really important in life.

Don't take that snide tone the wrong way, Fun Size looks pretty fun­ — how can you go wrong with a little kid in a Spider-Man costume punching people in the nuts? You can't, right? This is aimed at 12-year-old girls though, so prepare accordingly.

Speaking of Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man is the download of the week. Upon re-watching I liked it even more. It's really clever, Gafield and Stone have great chemistry and the story works almost perfectly as a modern reboot of a classic character. Yeah, we all still remember the last Spider-Man a little too well and sure, the Lizard wasn't perfect, but I'd take this smart and sassy webslinging adventure over that shaken-coffee-can-full-of-marbles Avengers any day.

The big movie dropping this week is Cloud Atlas from the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix Trilogy, V for Vendetta) and Tom Tyker (Run Lola Run). Like actual clouds, this one is hard to squeeze into any specific box. It's almost like a group of wispy freestyle jazz solos in the same key, or acid-rockers jamming on one simple chord structure. Basically, it's all over the place, interweaving no less than six stories along themes of reincarnation, freedom, redemption and how the nature of humanity transcends time, space and ego.

It sounds heavy (and a bit pretentious) but awe-inspiring visuals anchor the flick, as do solid performances from a talented cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving). Cloud Atlas is gonna be too long (almost three hours) and too weird and cerebral for some people but as a fearless example of genre/time/mind-bending filmmaking, it's definitely worth a look — but you need to buy into the mental gymnastics early on or I could see this getting tedious.

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