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Really, you do have options other than hack teen-hormone movies like "Slackers." Here are the best from overseas. The Danish and Italian films are their countries' entries in the Oscar derby, a big tight race that includes such films as "Amelie" from France and "No Man's Land" from Bosnia.

What Time Is It There?

Open nationwide

The hypnotic films of the Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang ("Vive l'Amour" and "The River") capture the isolation of urban life in images of haunting beauty. In his movies, every man is an island. His laconic new gem is a quirky love story in which the barely acquainted lovers are continents apart. The hero, Hsiao Kang (Lee Kang-sheng), becomes obsessed with a young woman (Chen Shiang-chyi) who has bought his dead father's watch from him for her trip to Paris. While she's away in France, lonely and homesick, he compulsively sets all the timepieces in Taipei to Paris time. As he's attempting to commune with a woman halfway around the world, his grieving mother is attempting to raise the spirit of her recently deceased husband. This wonderful, one-of-a-kind movie hops from Taiwan to France, from tragedy to deadpan comedy and, in its mysterious conclusion, from the worldly to the otherworldly.

The Son's Room

Open; nationwide Feb. 8

Revered in italy for his comedies ("Caro Diario"), Nanni Moretti confounded expectations (and won the Palme d'Or in Cannes) with his quietly powerful movie about a psychiatrist (Moretti) whose marriage and career are thrown into question when his teenage son is killed in a diving accident. Like "In the Bedroom," "The Son's Room" is about aftershocks of loss that threaten to tear a once happy family apart. There's not a whisper of melodrama or sentimentality in the way Moretti tells his tale, guiding us through the stages of grief with calm, devastating lucidity. Like a good shrink, Moretti watches with an unflinching but compassionate eye.

Italian for Beginners

Open nationwide

Shot on video, in the no-frills style of the "Dogma" movement, this gray, gritty Danish romantic comedy may wear cinematic sackcloth, but it radiates old-fashioned charm. Writer-director Lone Scherfig follows the fortunes of six beleaguered, lonely outcasts who happen to take the same Italian class, and who band together in the bleak Copenhagen winter to form a family of unlikely lovers. Without abandoning the illusion of realism, Scherfig and her wonderful cast slyly transmute the quotidian into the magical. It's like watching flowers bloom in a concrete garden.

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