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Sundance 2012 Daily Blog: Day 9

It was another early morning in Park City and, nine days into the festival, Total Film was in urgent need of a pick-me-up.

Luckily, we got one in the shape of Celeste And Jesse Forever , a sort of romcom-in-reverse that follows the eponymous Celeste and Jesse ( I Love You Man ’s Rashida Jones and Hot Rod ’s Andy Samberg), a married couple who’ve separated but remain best friends, as they struggle to get out of their comfortable routine and move on.

Sweet, slick and very, very funny, the film proved to be a breezy breath of fresh air after eight days of solid filmgoing.

Jones (who also co-wrote the script) and Samberg make for an immensely likeable couple, while the movie boasts some brilliant visual gags and an on-form supporting cast (particularly Elijah Wood as an awkward gay best friend and Emma Roberts as a precocious tween pop idol).

From reality-grabbing romance, we hopped into doc The Other Dream Team , which tells the true story of the part a Lithuanian basketball team played in their country’s liberation from Russia.
 
Featuring truly shocking footage of Russia’s attempts to stamp out the Lithuanian revolution, Dream Team manages to become more than just another sports doc by using the sporting achievements as a gauge for one country’s struggle against oppression.
 
With its subtitled talking heads and basketball hook, it might prove a tough sell in the UK, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it found a happy home on More4 sometime in the near future.

We’re finishing off the day with the festival’s closing-night premiere, The Words , an all-star literary drama with a complex story within a story within a story narrative.

We caught up with some of the film’s big-name cast (including Bradley Cooper, Ben Barnes, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid) yesterday in a sleek Park City haunt – check back here tomorrow for their thoughts and our verdict on the film.

For now, we’re off to make ourselves look presentable and stalk the red carpet. Here’s hoping they all wrap up warm – it’s flipping freezing out there…

Film Of The Day: My Brother The Devil

The only British film in the World Dramatic competition strand, TF was really hoping this would be good. Fortunately, it was.

Written and directed by debut feature filmmaker Sally El Hosaini and shot on location in Hackney, the film tells the story of two Egyptian brothers – older gang member Rashid (James Floyd) and the younger, impressionable Mo (newcomer Fady Elsayed).

But as Rashid tries to turn his back on drugs and postcode wars, Mo is drawn deeper in the opposite direction.

A familiar story perhaps, but El Hosaini’s assured direction and gripping, curveball-throwing script allow Devil to sidestep the sort of Kidulthood caricatures and clichés you might first expect.

El Hosaini also manages to draw excellent performances from her young cast (many of whom are untrained actors plucked straight from the streets) which, along with the film’s artful cinematography, make for a fresh perspective on the well-worn British gang flick.
 

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