My first thought was that this is a joke. I received an email linking me to a YouTube video called "Plastic Bay By Ramin Bahrani," and in the email I was told that it stars filmmaker Werner Herzog. Certainly it'd be a kind of mixed parody of the hated scene from American Beauty and the minimal realist films of Bahrani, and feature yet another faked Herzogian German accent. But wait, why would anyone lampoon that "most beautiful" plastic bag scene again after more than a decade? And who would think anyone would get a spoof of Bahrani, particularly by name?

The video was real. Is real. I mean ... it's a real short film by Bahrani featuring Herzog narrating the existential thoughts of a plastic bag throughout its life, from supermarket birth to ... well, I'll let you see where the adventure takes him. Oh, and another bonus: there's a score by Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Ros. Plastic Bag was shot by Bahrani's regular DP, Michael Simmonds, but it's a more gorgeous film than the director's features, which include the must-see works Man Push Cart and Chop Shop. While watching the short, I felt like the bag is a sort of cousin to the driven yet insignificant protagonists of those two earlier features, except that we are made witness to the thoughts of this new figure.

Also, it's probably about as close to sci-fi (specifically Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, right down to the goal and a sequence involving "alien" creatures), as Bahrani will ever get. Enjoy the entire 18 minute film after the jump.