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Sister Cities International Film Festival

It opens Feb. 4 with the Japanese film "Okuribito"


As a former subscriber to the Film Movement, an organization dedicated to bringing obscure foreign films to the attention of sloths and the disorganized masses, I appreciate subtitles. (Sometimes I wonder why British sitcoms don't have them, since I typically only caught one in every 12 of the insults that Edina and Patsy traded on episodes of AbFab, but as usual I digress.)

Anyway, Okuribito, a Japanese film that screens Feb. 4 as part of the Sister Cities International Film Festival - held once again at the Blue Mouse Theatre - is probably amusing even without the subtitles. This dark-horse winner of last year's foreign film Oscar peeks into the Japanese practice of encoffinment. Motoki Masahiro plays an aspiring cellist who is forced to move back home and scrounge for work when his orchestra is dissolved. Apparently unqualified for anything, he jumps at an ad promising good pay and flexible hours for work with "departures." When he finds out this means ritually bathing the dead in preparation for their eventual cremation, he predictably freaks - but he sticks around. Director Takita Yojiro lightens the sober mood with set pieces that border on slapstick.

The International Film Festival runs Feb. 4-April 8 on Thursdays. Plan your trips to the Blue Mouse at

[Blue Mouse Theatre, 6:30 p.m. for Japanese cultural events (no food this year!), 7:30 p.m. film, $10, Blue Mouse Theatre, 2611 N. Proctor St., Tacoma, (253) 752-9500]

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