Screenplay, Revaz Cheishvili. Camera (color), Lomer Achvlediani; editor, Gari Kuntsev; production design, Dimitri Eristavi; sound, Leila Ashiani. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama section), Feb. 11, 1994. Running time: 93 min.
With: Zurab Kipshidze, Nana Shonia, Mikheil Yashadze, Tamaz Khutsishvili, Teimuraz Chircadze.
Afiercely funny farce about the glasnost era and its aftermath in Georgia, “Information Express” is a natural for fests looking for a comedy slot that could spark wider commercial interest if properly handled. More Marx Brothers than Marx, Karl, the film had a difficult production history and has been in the works for seven years, frowned on by the previous post-communist regime in Georgia; it’s director Eldar Shengelaya’s first pic since his amusing “Blue Mountains” 10 years ago.
The title is that of a fictitious TV show spotlighting crime and corruption in Georgian society. The main target is a fruit-juice bottling company; it’s alleged some poison has found its way into the juice, and the company boss is on the carpet, live on TV.
But that’s only the starting point for an often wildly funny grab bag of jokes about life today in Georgia, where political and corporate allegiances shift wildly back and forth, the police can easily be bribed, gun-toting bandits battle one another from moving cars and everyone spies on everyone else.
Some of the jokes are old faves, and others will probably mean more to Georgian audiences than to outsiders. But the fast-paced comedy has something for everyone who likes to laugh at corrupt, bumbling officialdom.
Technical credits are modest, but there’s a flawless cast of comics, and Shengelaya knows his stuff. The result is a most delightful diversion.