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  • Aki Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys: Eclipse Series 29 (Leningrad Cowboys Go America/ Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses/ Total Balalaika Show, Plus Five Music Videos) (Criterion)
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Aki Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys: Eclipse Series 29 (Leningrad Cowboys Go America/ Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses/ Total Balalaika Show, Plus Five Music Videos) (Criterion)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Matti Pellonpaa
  • Directors: Aki Kaurismaki
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 18 2011
  • Run Time: 230 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B005D0RDGG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,219 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

In the late eighties and early nineties, Aki Kaurismäki (The Match Factory Girl), the master of the deadpan, fashioned a waggish fish-out-of-water tale about a U.S. tour by “the worst rock-and-roll band in the world.” Leningrad Cowboys Go America’s posse of fur-coated, outrageously pompadoured hipsters struck such a chord with international audiences that the fictional band became a genuine attraction, touring the world. Later, Kaurismäki created a sequel, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, and filmed a gigantic stadium show the band put on in Helsinki for the rollicking documentary Total Balalaika Show. With this Eclipse series, we present these crackpot musical and comic odysseys, along with five Leningrad Cowboys music videos directed by Kaurismäki.


LENINGRAD COWBOYS GO AMERICA A struggling Siberian rock band leaves the lonely tundra to tour the United States because, as they are told, “they put up with anything there.” Aki Kaurismäki’s winningly aloof farce follows the men as they bravely make their way across the New World, carrying a coffin full of beer and sporting hairdos like unicorn horns. Leningrad Cowboys Go America was such a sensation that the band gained a real-life cult following.


LENINGRAD COWBOYS MEET MOSES Living in Mexico with a top-ten hit under their belts, the Leningrad Cowboys have fallen on hard times. When they move north to rejoin their manager (Kaurismäki mainstay Matti Pellonpää) for a gig in Coney Island, he seems to have turned into a delusional self-proclaimed prophet who wishes to lead them back to the promised land of Siberia. Like the first installment, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses is a road movie, but this time the humorous hardships come from the rocky terrain of the new Europe.


TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW Kaurismäki’s documentary of the Leningrad Cowboys’ massive Helsinki Square concert, on Finland’s largest stage, is a loving tribute to the rock band he made famous. Seventy thousand people from Finland and Russia turned out for this megaspectacle, with musical selections, from Sibelius to Bob Dylan, that crossed genre and national divides. And the band was joined onstage by the 150-member Russian Red Army Choir; Variety called it “the most incongruous—and inspired—cross-cultural pairing since Nureyev danced with Miss Piggy.”

ALSO FEATURING THE FOLLOWING LENINGRAD COWBOYS MUSIC VIDEOS: Rocky VI, Thru the Wire, L.A. Woman, These Boots, and Those Were the Days


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Most helpful customer reviews

By Pedro on April 14 2013
Verified Purchase
what's to say......... a truly off the wall, out there, gutbustingly funny series. the Leningrad cowboys put the Stones, the Beatles and some other high falutin bands to shame.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great films but disappointing picture quality Feb. 27 2012
By John Chandler - Published on Amazon.com
I have these in the Finnish language releases. They are terrific cult films and hilarious to watch. Unfortunately the Criterion transfers are below par, the picture is soft and the colors weak. The Finnish PAL releases are noticably better. Only in the subtitles do Criterion excell. They offer the choice of full subtitles whereas the Finns only subtitle the Finnish language parts. As visitors to Finland will know the Finnish accent is a bit different and the Criterion titles do help.
The Leningrad Cowboys are Kaurismäki's most absurd creation, but you are as likely to sigh at the lameness as laugh at the gags May 13 2015
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
The Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki has essentially made the same kind of film over and over again: against a muted colour palette, Finnish actors recite their lines with the most robotic of deadpan delivery. Though these films are set in the present day, at some point an oldies band will appear on a stage playing rockabilly, Finnish tangos or other music of the 1950s. Already these elements add up to something absurd, but with the Leningrad Cowboys films, which Criterion has released here in its budget series Eclipse, Kaurismäki ventured much further into the inexplicably odd.

As LENINGRAD COWBOYS GO AMERICA (1994), the first film, opens, we are "somewhere in the tundra" of Siberia. We meet the Leningrad Cowboys, an extravagantly quiffed Russian troupe of musicians with no following besides the mute village idiot, Igor. Furthermore, one of their members froze to death the previous night when he stayed outside rehearsing. Unable to make it in their home country, this Russian band -- which is in fact played by Finnish actors who could never pass as Russians (they even speak Finnish to each other before the film switches to English-language dialogue) -- sets out for America with their fallen bandmate in a coffin. After they arrive in New York, they are booked for a wedding in Mexico, necessitating a cross-country drive where they perform in a series of shabby bars across the Deep South. They are led by their manager Vladimir (Matti Pellonpää), who spends their meagre earnings on luxury for himself while starving the band. Unbeknownst to them, the village idiot Igor, who aspires to be one of them, has arrived in the United States too in pursuit.

The America shown in this film is much like in the early work of Kaurismäki's fellow filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (and indeed Jarmusch makes a cameo as a used car salesman and Kaurismäki borrows elements of Jarmusch's film MYSTERY TRAIN that was being shot at the same time in Memphis). The film renounces the glamorous locations seen in Hollywood films for a backdrop of overgrown vacant lots, rusting junkyards and small-town bars full of lower-class drunks. The film is a series of vignettes preceded by title cards, and in each one the band is in a different place than in the last as they work their way towards Mexico. Kaurismäki pays homage to the American blues and rockabilly tradition by casting Duke Robillard and Colonel Robert Morris in small parts.

The second film, LENINGRAD COWBOYS MEET MOSES (1994), follows closely on the action of the first film, as Vladimir reappears after an unexplained absence, having become an extravagantly bearded religious fanatic and calling himself Moses. Their former manager wants to lead the band, who have become stranded in Mexico, back to their home in Siberia. This sequel has the same general format as its predecessor, though this time the road trip is from France back through Europe to the Russian border. Vladimir has stolen something important, and French actor André Wilms plays an American CIA agent pursuing him on the road back home (his thick French accent again clashing with his character's supposed origin). A much more sombre effort than the first, LENINGRAD COWBOYS MEET MOSES is also among Kaurismäki's worst films.

In this era when goofy humour that evokes laughs but has little re-watch value is instantly available on the web, LENINGRAD COWBOYS GO AMERICA no longer feels like such the essential viewing that critics in decades past called it. If you are a fan of Kaurismäki's aesthetics, you'll probably enjoy seeing it once, but even during that first viewing you're probably likely to shake your head at the goofiness and low-budgetness of it all while occasionally chuckling.

Besides the two feature films we get TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW, a concert video of a 1993 live performance that the Leningrad Cowboys (who included some really talented musicians, not just actors playing underdogs) gave in Helsinki with the Alexandrov Red Army Choir and Ballet. It documents an interesting period in Eastern European history, when Soviet-era troupes who once offered patriotic fare and drew decent state salaries were now hurting for cash, ready to collaborate with any Western paying customer who came along. Thus the Alexandrov Red Army Choir performs not only some sentimental Russian folk material, but American rock songs like "Sweet Home, Alabama". The clash of Western (or at least non-aligned Finnish) capitalism and Soviet militaristic fashion excess is striking, but again, this has not dated well.

Like usual in Criterion's budget series Eclipse, there are no extras here. The DVD transfer is unobjectionable, but Kaurismäki was aiming for a drab and grainy look anyway. All in all, I'd recommend this really to committed Kaurismäki films who are interested in exploring his whole output, but I'd be wary of recommending it to a general audience. Still, three stars for the risk of liking it or hating it.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Long Story Short Crterion Never Fails! Nov. 15 2011
By Abraham Afzal - Published on Amazon.com
i bought this on a spur of the moment 50% sale, not a big suprise that the prestigious criterion picked out a very enjoyable finish cult classic. Anyone who appreciates good films will like these odd quirky films.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
FOR "GO AMERICA" FILM: A mixed bag at best but certainly an interesting Finnish/Russian antidote to The Blues Brothers March 14 2013
By Visual Bureau - Published on Amazon.com
"Above all, a very muted, subdued, and dry experience in its own right but stylistically intriguing as a whole. After viewing Kaurismaki's Le Havre, his most recent cinematic effort, Leningrad Cowboys, along with Ariel and Juha, is considered one of his most notable works during his career. First off, the film deals with a Russian folk music band touring the United States after losing a contract and fan-base in their home country.

The film, despite its potential snafus to certain audiences, is neither pro-Communist nor spoken in Russian or Finnish (given the director's homeland) with English subtitles but in seldom-used, broken English for the most part with some Mexican Spanish. Aside from that, the stylistic factor is notified by its distant humour and dialogue where much of the comedy and irony comes from the small things they say and the mildly zany things (particularly tame material for a PG-13 film) they do like leave a member of their band to be in a bed of ice with his bass guitar, look at pictures of elderly Russian women out of romantic feelings, or revolt against their secretly greedy band leader. Le Havre, in comparison, is a little more obvious and timed precisely than Leningrad's more freeform aspects.

While the film can be seen at parts as purely hilarious (in a dry manner), the whole film is too spare and slow to be considered a classic or re-watchable especially in the YouTube era of fast-paced comedy. Interesting effort in cross-continental cinema but not entirely a glourious cult effort that The Criterion Collection puts it out as."
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A welcome blast from the past. Aug. 20 2014
By Rik Dawg - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Crazy, beautiful film. I never expected to find a "collectors edition" of this movie that I only had on VHS; but it, and a sequel I knew nothing about, were great to visit and revisit. Great picture, sound and no dragging the VHS out to watch it. :)

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