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For (a Belated) Earth Day: “Plastic Bag”

26 April 2010

“Plastic Bag,” an 18-minute film directed by Ramin Bahrani and narrated by [Werner] Herzog, follows the title character, a lowly plastic shopping bag, from ‘birth’ at a supermarket checkout aisle, through a happy life with his ‘maker’ (the woman who took her groceries home in him and used him for random daily chores) to cruel abandonment in a garbage dump. After years searching for his maker, during which the human race disappears, the bag meets its final reward in the Pacific Ocean’s notorious ‘Garbage Vortex,’ where it finds rueful solace among its dispossessed and stubbornly un-biodegradable tribe.

…, “Plastic Bag” has become a hit on the Internet since appearing on YouTube and the Independent Television Service Web site a month ago. The film was commissioned by ITVS as part of its online “Futurestates” project, in which 11 filmmakers were asked to make digital shorts about present-day issues and their implications for the future….

Though it was created for online viewing, “Plastic Bag” has been shown at renowned film festivals such as Telluride and South by Southwest…..: Filmed with spare elegance by cinematographer Michael Simmonds, “Plastic Bag” elaborates on a visual trope that recurred throughout “American Beauty” and found its first expression in Jem Cohen’s 1996 experimental documentary “Lost Book Found.”

“Plastic Bag” also unites…Herzog, who with “Fitzcarraldo” and “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” has long sealed a legendary reputation as one of film’s most obsessively passionate directors; and Bahrani, who has proven to be one of the most promising members of a new generation of American neorealists, since he made a stunning debut with “Man Push Cart” in 2005 and followed with “Chop Shop” and “Goodbye Solo.” (from “Web Hit ‘Plastic Bag’ Blows Into D.C. For  Environmental Film Fest”, Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post, 4/23/10)

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