11 March 2010 | MisterWhiplash
Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world... Bahrani/Herzog style
Ramin Bahrani is one of the world's most promising filmmakers right now - his first three features, Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and Goodbye Solo, reveal an artist at work who is interested in showing lives as they are, or how they should be, even in the unfortunate circumstances the characters are in (working a cart, living in a Queens ghetto, readying to die). With Plastic Bag, one might think this is going to be a short-film version of what Wes Bentley's character did in American Beauty, filming "the most beautiful thing in the world". But it's deeper than that, more touching. It takes a rare eye and heart to make something this moving, a saga of a bag that, by way of a 'voice' by Werner Herzog (that unmistakable Bavarian soul put into it).
It might remind one of a few other movies or stories - immediately I thought of tales where a character is left behind, a machine used to serve a purpose until it has none, like WALL-E or A.I. But Bahrani means to show more than that, and it actually fits well into his oeuvre so far. What does this Plastic Bag do isn't a concern as much as who 'it' is. This may sound pretentious, but the way it's presented it's done like a poem or a short story that on the surface is cute and underneath reveals much about the human condition. How would we want to live, or be, as a plastic bag, happy to be used and have an owner, upset by the competition of a dog, and then tossed aside in a garbage heap? It's hard to describe how moving the film is, and how wonderful it's shot and scored, until you actually see it. It can be seen online now at youtube, and I recommend it as one of those must-see short films, like Un chien Andalou.