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"Aki, ze bear"

MUBI Special

Leningrad Cowboys: These Boots

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1993

With what could be an origin story for our favorite fish-out-of-water Leningrad Cowboys, sit back, relax, and witness their bizarre (yet toe-tapping!) Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra cover, scoring Aki Kaurismäki’s equally bizarre (and wickedly funny) history of Finland between 1952 and 1969.

Rocky VI

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1986

Liberally reinterpreting Sly Stallone’s inspiring underdog story, Aki Kaurismäki takes his typical deadpan humour to a whole other level with this exuberant 80s short-film satire. Relentless glam-rock guitar riffs soundtrack this pain-and-gain parody—outrageous, outlandish, and a little bit sad!

Le Havre

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 2011

There’s a touch of comic master Tati to this portrait of the titular port town, to which writer-director Kaurismäki returns to France with this sunny and still socially-minded film. Drawing together its unlikely duo—an author & a newly-arrived Illegal immigrant—Le Havre is a gorgeous human comedy.

Lights in the Dusk

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 2006

Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki is a master of the deadpan, balancing deftly between comedy and tragedy. Here, he mixes film noir, Robert Bresson, Jim Jarmusch, and rock music into a punchy gem all his own. This Cannes entry was also selected for Oscar consideration—an honor he boycotted!

The Man Without a Past

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 2002

Don’t call it a comeback — but with a remarkable resurgence, Aki Kaurismäki scored one of his biggest critical and commercial successes with this impeccable distillation of his uniquely dry and deadpan style. A compassionate and humane, heavily ironic comedy.

Juha

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1999

A director with such affection for irony and inchoate characters, it’s unsurprising Aki Kaurismaki turned his take on this classic of 18th century Finnish literature into a silent feature. In (another) postmodern twist, the black-and-white Juha is an anachronistic “modern” update—set in the 1970s!

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1994

From Aki Kaurismäki comes this curio, a road movie on all incommunicable and lost in translation. With heart that belies its hard rock soundtrack, and featuring extraordinary non-verbal acting, this is a supreme example of what cinema can achieve, patient and sensitive to even the slightest gesture.

Total Balalaika Show

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1994

Like some goofier, wackier This is Spinal Tap, this concert film “rockumentary” from Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki reunites the director with old friends the Leningrad Cowboys in a resplendent fusion of rock & roll & Russian folk music.

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1994

Continuing their creative partnership, Aki Kaurismäki and his crew of collaborators the Leningrad Cowboys head south to Mexico in this Finnish fish-out-of-water comedy, the bold and idiosyncratic sequel to the ace Leningrad Cowboys Go America .

I Hired a Contract Killer

Aki Kaurismäki Germany, 1990

In his first collaboration with Aki Kaurismäki, iconic French star Jean-Pierre Léaud proves a perfect fit for the director’s droll and deadpan, not-quite-comedy style. Absurd and existential, the London-set I Hired a Contract Killer is a rare and fascinating outsider’s view of late-80s Britain.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1989

Kaurismäki transformed the Finnish band Sleepy Sleepers into the fictitious but wonderfully eccentric Cowboys, a struggling Siberian rock band, who fall foul of Soviet officialdom but head to the U.S. to tour all over the country, where “they’ll take anything.”

The Match Factory Girl

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1990

Kati Outinen is memorably impenetrable as Iiris, whose grinding days as a cog in a factory wheel, and nights as a neglected daughter living with her parents, ultimately send her over the edge. The Match Factory Girl closes out the “Proletariat Trilogy” with a bang—and a whimper.

Ariel

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1988

In Kaurismäki’s drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic despair, only to get into ever deeper trouble. Yet a minor-key romance with a hilariously dispassionate meter maid might provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Hamlet Goes Business

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1987

A black-and-white film noir reworking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After the death of his father, young Hamlet inherits a seat on the board of a company controlled by his uncle that decides to move into the rubber duck market. But Hamlet is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his father’s death.

Calamari Union

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1985

Avant-garde, experimental and misogynist in the bargain, this oddball film is about 17 men named Frank who make their way through Helsinki in a commandeered subway car.

Shadows in Paradise

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1986

Lonely garbageman Nikander (Matti Pellonpää) finds himself directionless after losing his friend and co-worker to a sudden heart attack; unlikely redemption comes in the form of plain supermarket cashier Ilona (Kati Outinen), with whom he begins a tentative love affair.

Crime and Punishment

Aki Kaurismäki Finland, 1983

Inspired by Dostoyevsky’s famous novel, this engrossing Finnish version of “Crime and Punishment” revolves around an ex-law student in Helsinki (Markku Toikka) who now works in a slaughterhouse.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.