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Less well-known than his Fifth Generation peers, Huo Jianqi specializes in quiet, rural stories, and this mild 1999 drama went straight to video in China before it became an art-house hit in Japan three years later. A middle-aged mailman, forced to retire because of illness, gives his job to his grown son but can't bring himself to let go. Aloof and highly critical, he leads the young man on his route through the mountains of Hunan, and as they tramp from one village to the next, the son realizes that his father is as much a caregiver as a letter carrier. The movie's studied tranquillity will appeal to some, though its embrace of traditional village life struck me as self-satisfied to the point of smugness. In Mandarin with subtitles. 93 min.

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