Last night I finally watched Aki Kaurismäki’s Leningrad Cowboys go America, for which I had paid $40, with shipping on Ebay. You can’t get it on DVD at all, and the video is out of print. Never was $40 better spent on a very short film. It is the funniest rock and roll movie ever made, and, though this isn’t strictly relevant, it has some of the best playing. It is part of the joke that the Leningrad Cowboys, a band from the Finnish tundra, master effortlessly every musical style from Tango through rockabilly to mariachi music.
Unlike later Kaurismäki, this is pure comedy. Even the deaf-mute village idiot, trailing through the desert with a giant catfish in his arms, comes to a happy ending. But it is also, it seems to me, a very profound expreession of the love that the Bushies have thrown away. The America of the Leningrad Cowboys is the one we all fell in love with from a distance: a place of sleazy bars, great music, crooks everywhere, unexpected kindness, and adventures for everyone. Watching the film today, the one thing that seemed even odder than the resurrection of the bass player was the fact that there was no scene at immigration. They simply got on the plane and got off in New York, where they went straight to the sreets.