Monday, January 26, 2009

Short Shrift

from the American Heritage Dictionary online:

NOUN:1. Summary, careless treatment; scant attention: These annoying memos will get short shrift from the boss. 2. Quick work. 3a. A short respite, as from death. b. The brief time before execution granted a condemned prisoner for confession and absolution.

WORD HISTORY: To be given short shrift is not the blessing it once was. The source of our verb shrive (shrove, shriven) and noun shrift, which have technical meanings from ecclesiastical Latin, is Classical Latin scribere, “to write.” Shrive comes from the Old English verb scrifan, “to decree, decree after judgment, impose a penance upon (a penitent), hear the confession of.” The past participle of scrifan is scrifen, our shriven. The noun shrift, “penance; absolution,” comes from Old English scrift with the same meaning, which comes from scriptus, the perfect passive participle of scribere, and means “what is written,” or, to use the Latin word, “what is prescribed.” Theologians and confessors viewed the sacrament of penance as a prescription that cured a moral illness. In early medieval times penances were long and arduous—lengthy pilgrimages and even lifelong exile were not uncommon—and had to be performed before absolution, not after as today. However, less demanding penances could be given in extreme situations; short shrift was a brief penance given to a person condemned to death so that absolution could be granted before execution.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Favorite Movie Discoveries of Oh Eight

This isn't really an end of the year list, as these aren't 08 movies (I only saw one 08 movie in 08) but rather movies I watched in 08.

Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

The strangest and best film I saw in 2008 is this little Thai film from 2006. It's a beautiful, meditative, funny, weird experience... completely unique, it's one of those movies that absolutely cannot be described.

Variations (Nathaniel Dorsky)

This was an amazing and blissful movie. I saw this along with the other 3 excellent Dorsky shorts that Andy Ditzler showed at the Eyedrum for his Film Love series. Abstract juxtaposition of images that are oddly emotive and effective. Editing, pace, colors and light.

Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple)

One of the very best documentaries. You feel like you really went through it all by the end; it's ugly and brutal and dirty, and features some of the most interesting people you wish you had met.

Other great discoveries:

  • Vagabond (Varda)

  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (Gianvito)

  • Innocence (Hadzihalilovic)

  • Ritual in Transfigured Time (Deren)

  • Nanook of the North (Flaherty)

  • Hoop Dreams (James)

  • It's a Wonderful Life (Capra)

  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Paradjanov)

  • Planet Earth TV series

  • Film Ist (Deutsch)

  • Turtles Can Fly (Ghobadi)

  • When Father Was Away on Business (Kusturica)