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Finland: “Leningrad Cowboys Go America”

“Leningrad Cowboys Go America” is a 1989 road movie by Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki about the adventures of a fictional Russian rock band (the Leningrad Cowboys, played by the Finnish rock band Sleepy Sleepers) that goes to the United States to become famous.

At the beginning, the Leningrad Cowboys, a band with foot-long pompadour hairstyles, are still in Russia, where nobody likes their blend of polka and rock and roll music. Due to their seemingly complete lack of talent, a move to America comes as a natural choice, as they say people will listen to "anything" there.
Being naive and pliable, the band decides to do just that. Unfortunately, one of the band members stays up all night on the frozen tundra practicing and is apparently dead the next day. The rest of the band decides to take him along anyway.

When they arrive in New York, the band and its manager — all wearing hairstyles with what appears to be a lethal widow’s peak and Persian slippers that could also pass for weapons.
The trip includes a spell in jail, and they pass the time by making noises on the table in their cell, causing the warden to wear ear muffs, having their car engine stolen, having one nightclub close after they play there and meeting up with a lost cousin. In the end, the manager leaves, but the band makes it to Mexico, where they finally find success and happiness, making the top ten.

So, they buy a car, strap their frozen member in a coffin filled with ice — and drilled with holes to accommodate his hair and shoes — to the roof, and head across America, with stops along the way to brush up on American rock ‘n’ roll, nothing post-1968.

Kaurismäki’s movies have a unique downplayed humorous side that can also be seen in the films of Jim Jarmusch, who has a cameo in this film. Jarmusch also used frequent Kaurismäki actors in his film Night on Earth, a part of which takes place in Helsinki, Finland.

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