YEARS AGO, MOVIEGOERS FLOCKED TO FOREIGN FILMS to learn about other cultures. (Okay, so the sex might have had something to do with it.) It’s time again to see what other countries’ movies can tell us about the world we live in:

Kandahar Feminist Iranian (!) film about a journalist returning to her native Afghanistan; authenticity gets it past some amateur acting—as does an eye for the surreal (and even darkly comic) aspects of Taliban-era misery.

Amores Perros Like a Mexican mirror image of Traffic, this raw, intense drama interweaves three tales of unrequited love that sweep from the serene penthouses of the rich to the sardine-packed flats of the criminal poor.

L.627 The camaraderie, casual corruption and absurdity of everyday police work in a Paris of drugs and immigrants, captured with the charged-up realism of a great 70s movie like Dog Day Afternoon.

My Son the Fanatic From the writer of My Beautiful Laundrette, another tart and lively multicultural mix, about a worldly Pakistani cabbie in England whose son is drifting into fundamentalism.

Lamerica Sardonic take on how the post-Communist East opened up to the capitalist West; an Italian seeking a fast buck in Albania winds up on a journey through that land that history forgot.

Lagaan Epic musical about an Indian town that challenges the cruel British to a life-or-death cricket match (played out between dreamily romantic song and dance numbers). What’s that doing on this list? Well, nothing illustrates the paradox of global culture better than a fun piece of pop candy like this, nominally anti-Western—but happy to use every trick in the Hollywood book.

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