These films represent something of a change of pace for Kaurismäki, as they are more unambiguously comic than most of the rest of his oeuvre. Most Kaurismäki films strike a fine balance between a dry, sardonic, black Finnish humour and a sense of drama and gravity, but in the Leningrad Cowboys films we see a more playful - even Pythonesque at times - Kaurismäki, and very enjoyable it is too!
In Leningrad Cowboys Go America, we follow the fortunes of the Leningrad Cowboys, a deeply untalanted band from Siberia who are advised to go to America because "they'll put up with anything there." Led by their despotic manager Vladimir, the band take their music, and their distinctive hairstyles, across America - looking less for fame and fortune than to scrape enough money together to eat. (Watch out for the cameo appearance by Jim Jarmusch as the used car salesman...)
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses continues in much the same vein as its predecessor and is equally satisfying. The absurd, Pythonesque humour is a bit more in evidence here and again it's wonderful to see an accomplished filmmaker just having fun. This film is also significant in that it was Matti Pellonpää's last performance for Kaurismäki (as Vladimir/Moses) before his untimely death.
Total Balalaika Show is a film of a concert given by the Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Chorus. The box set also includes two of Kaurismäki's short films which would be very difficult to see otherwise.