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Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)

Starring:

Heikki Keskinen

Jatimatic Ohlstrom

Jim Jarmusch

Kari Laine

Kari Väänänen

Mato Valtonen

Matti Pellonpää

Mauri Sumén

Nicky Tesco

Olli Tuominen

Pekka Virtanen

Pimme Korhonen

Puka Oinonen

Sakari Kuosmanen

Sakke Järvenpää

Silu Seppälä

Directed by:

Aki Kaurismäki

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 78 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Finland

It’s not often that the subject of a  movie about a spoof rock ‘n’ roll/polka/folk band go on to become an internationally loved supergroup but somehow Finnish Director Aki Kaurismäki managed to do just that with the Leningrad Cowboys.

The Leningrad Cowboys are an unconventional rock band with huge quiffs and winklepickers from Finland who decide to go on a tour of America because ‘they’ll listen to any old shit there’. Led by their unscrupulous manager Vladimir (Pellonpää) they stumble from failed gig to failed gig as they simultaneously get poorer. Along the way they meet a long lost cousin (Tesco) and a village idiot (Väänänen) who’s followed them from Finland.

Essentially, Leningrad Cowboys is a one joke movie but it’s done in such a likeable and amusing fashion that it doesn’t get old. With less success Aki Kaurismäki tried to extend the joke to two more movies however the Cowboys did become a successful real life band and over-the-top live act. Most of the humour is surreal and quirky and found in simple situations like the audacity of the manager, a jailhouse drum ensemble and the problems faced by the huge group whenever travelling in just one car. Many of the funny parts are just in the visuals of the style of band. Some of the musical interludes are excellent and fun to watch but some of them could probably have been cut.

Kaurismäki is famously a big influence on the offbeat style of Jim Jarmusch and the kindly Finn even gave Jim a role in his movie. Like with Jarmusch’s work, if you are looking for a joke a minute or huge belly laughs then LCGA is not really the place to look but if you want style, pathos and quirky humour then it definitely is.

It's Got: A great look, many humourous moments, Jim Jarmusch in an acting role

It Needs: Some of the musical scenes to have been cut

DVD Extras Best to buy the 'Aki Kaurismäki: The Leningrad Cowboys Collection. This movie stars is put alongside Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (big disappointment) and Total Balalaika Show (live show madness). Extras for LCGO include five short films from Kaurismäki. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Mystery Train, Spinal Tap, The Man Without a Past

Summary

One of the best spoof musicals ever and it comes from Finland. Leningrad Cowboys Go America is a great take on the American Dream with plenty of amusing moments and a wonderful style.

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