Monday, May 14, 2018

A FEW WORDS ON THE TASTE OF CEMENT


The downside to writing about (excellent) films like The Taste Of Cement is most people reading this probably wont ever get the chance to see it outside of a special festival screening like I was fortunate enough to attend recently. Like...what's the point of even writing this? I mean, I enjoyed this movie very much but it almost teases the readers because they cant exactly go watch or stream this any time soon (I do imagine this will be available to stream at some point down the road but I highly doubt it will be advertised/pushed like other higher profile indie/arthouse films). What's even worse is that the only films I can compare this to, for reference purposes, are more films that most folks either wont get the chance to see or haven't seen due to limited availability like Krivina or Chantal Akerman's La Bas...

Like Krivina, The Taste Of Cement is an almost uncategorizeable film that's both cryptic & droning. And much like Akerman's under-seen La Bas, The Taste Of Cement mixes fiction, non-fiction and poetic voice-over that doesn't necessarily match with the imagery you see in front of you
(this is very much from the school of Chris Marker)

Krivina / The Taste Of Cement

And with the subtle electronic soundtrack and "cool" camera angels, The Taste Of Cement also has a lightweight science-fiction vibe that's reminiscent to Bladerunner & Solaris...

Bladerunner / The Taste Of Cement

Solaris / The Taste Of Cement

What sets The Taste Of Cement apart from all the aforementioned films is that there's a much deeper meaning. The 1/2 fiction 1/2 documentary chronicles construction workers in Syria rebuilding skyscrapers in post-war Bierut. And, like my feelings on writing this piece, it is an almost pointless gesture in that there is the strong possibility that the new buildings being constructed will be bombed down again due to the ongoing conflict in their country. While this film is excellent and probably one of the best movies I've seen so far this year, it is incredibly bleak & depressing (especially the last 10 minutes or so). Imagine a more playful & experimental Austrian-era Michael Haneke film...

The Taste Of Cement hit me on a personal level. As some of you may know, I studied & currently work in the field of Design & Architecture, which, as you can see from some of the above images, is a major proponent to the plot of The Taste Of Cement. A big part of my job has to do with putting in hours of work in order to win bids & contracts. And as you can imagine, we dont always win these bids. This obviously sucks because you put in hours of work to come up with drawings & proposals only to lose out to the competition. That sounds pretty frustrating, doesnt it? And thats just from a "first world" problem perspective.
Imagine putting in months of work (away from your home & family) to construct a building only for it to be shot down by a tank in a matter of seconds. Not only was all your back-breaking hard work put to waste, but, more importantly, hundreds of innocent people occupying that newly constructed building will more than likely be injured & killed when the structure is bombed down.

The Taste Of Cement is perfectly crafted but is very bleak and not for viewers with easily triggered depression. Fans of everything from Leviathan (2012) & Fata Morgana (is "acid documentary" a thing?) to the ambient music of Brian Eno will potentially enjoy The Taste Of Cement very much. I only hope this is available to stream before the year is over.