2018, 126 min, Latvia, Dir: Oskars Rupenheits

The first Latvian feature partially financed by a local crowdfunding campaign, THE FOUNDATION OF CRIMINAL EXCELLENCE follows a man’s hilarious search for inspiration for his screenplay about the criminal underworld. What begins as a few harmless scams turns into an elaborate heist, as the wannabe con artist and his reluctant companion find themselves more entangled in crime than they ever imagined. With an entirely nonprofessional cast, this irreverent buddy comedy from first-time director Oskars Rupenheits was a surprise hit at the Latvian box office, becoming the No. 1 film of 2018.

1992, 20th Century Fox, 86 min, USA, Dir: Fran Rubel Kuzui

Writer Joss Whedon would bring Buffy and friends to television with even greater success five years later but this big-screen original remains loads of fun. Spoiled L.A. teen Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) is skeptical when an older man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) tells her that she’s destined to kill the undead, but when vampire leader Lothos (Rutger Hauer) and his deputy (Paul Reubens, in a very effective turn from his Pee-wee Herman persona) cross her path, Buffy goes into action. Luke Perry costars as her eventual ally, with an impressive array of future stars (including Hilary Swank and an uncredited Ben Affleck) joining them in the halls of Hemery High School.

1953, Park Circus/MGM, 83 min, Dir: Phil Karlson

An aspiring actress (Evelyn Keyes) gets entangled with a washed-up boxer (John Payne) framed for the murder of his trampy wife (Peggie Castle). They’ve only got a few hours to hunt down the real killer. No director crafted rugged crime dramas bursting with violence better than director Phil Karlson, and this film (set entirely at night) is one of his best. Keyes lights up the screen and former crooner Payne is a convincing noir tough guy. With Brad Dexter, Frank Faylen, Jay Adler and Jack Lambert.

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