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Here come the blockbusters

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Happy Canada Day. The closest thing to a Canadian movie playing at the Whistler Village 8 this weekend is This is the End, an end-of-the-world-hits-the-Hollywood-Hills flick written/directed by Vancouver's Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen and starring Montreal's Jay Baruchel. It's rad.

But to keep the Canadian content level high, the download of the week is Picture Day, a coming-of-age/high school movie from writer/director Kate Melville and Whistler-raised producer Peter Harvey. The flick follows Claire, held back for another go at grade 12, as she teeters in the purgatory between adolescence and adulthood.

Picture Day is a very Canadian film: no flashy cars, elaborate proms or 90210-style moralizing. Instead it's just a girl, a boy, another guy and some kids drinking in ravines and eating acid at the planetarium. This sort of cinematic honesty is often called "edgy" by Hollywood types but really it's just good-filmmaking and tight writing held together by a fantastic performance from Tatiana Maslany. Find it on iTunes. Canadian movies rule.

On the other side of things, our cousins to the south will soon celebrate Independence Day, which means the Village 8 gets a double whammy of big, loud, expensive summer blockbusters this week. Artsy-fartsy movie fans can get their kicks in the fall, this week let's eat the living shit out of some butter-drenched popcorn and watch us some movin' picture shows. Yee haw!

White House Down opens Friday and the trailer looks way-over-the-top awesome. Director Roland Emmerich is responsible for some of the biggest effects-driven flicks ever (Independence Day, 2012) and this time around he's got Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Miami Vice) and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, GI Joe) teamed up in an odd-couple, action-thriller-comedy that essentially looks like Die Hard in the White House. At two hours, 14 min. White House Down is probably a bit too long but Foxx and Tatum always deliver. Throw in Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary) and Richard Jenkins (Say It Isn't So) and, well you had me at "Maggie Gyllenhaal." Surely it will be a bit ridiculous but White House Down could also position Channing Tatum as America's next great action hero.

There were no press screenings for any of these films but also opening Friday: The Heat, a by-the-numbers buddy-cop movie except the cops this time are Sandra Bullock (playing the tight-ass FBI suit) and Melissa McCarthy as a tough-rough-and-rude Boston street detective. Directed by Paul Feig, the guy who made Bridesmaids, this one looks to be trying a little too hard. Certainly there will be some moments of great comedic chemistry between those stars but with one hour, 57 min. of runtime I'm skipping it. McCarthy got an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids but has also been criticized for her range (fat jokes only) so it might be interesting to see how she responds here.

The onslaught continues Wednesday July 3 when Bruckheimer-Gore-Depp, the team behind Pirates of the Carribean, present The Lone Ranger. Depp plays Tonto, Armie Hammer steps in as the Ranger, and Keira Knightly is the damsel with the gun in her boot. Westerns rule even when they suck (they're one of the few original American art forms) and this Lone Ranger looks to have more explosions than any Western ever. At 2.5 hours it's probably way too long and hopefully it doesn't climax in 45 minutes of epileptic shock (a Bruckheimer trademark) but it's the freakin' Lone Ranger, man, with Depp as a native mystic who sounds a little bit like Hunter S. Thompson... You gotta see that.

Despicable Me 2 also opens Wednesday. For a sequel it's supposed to be pretty good and looks perfect for kids a bit too old for Monsters University, but not ready for full-frontal and exit wounds. Happy Canada and Independence Days.

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