Certain problematic words and phrases may appear in the course of SIFF Notes, or may be overheard while waiting in line for a SIFF film. The following is a handy guide to help decipher them.

aesthetic: fifty-cent word typically employed by film critics afraid just to say "style"

cinema vérité: shaky camera

cinematic: like a movie

cinematography: pretty pictures that move; typically preceded by an adjective ("stunning," "dreamlike," "flat")

coming-of-age: loss-of-virginity

dark comedy: human suffering played for laughs

deconstruction: futile, academic exercise

docudrama: fake realism

Dogme: low-budget, shot on video, Danish

eccentric: mentally ill; also, patronizing

eclectic: corny

experimental: amateurish, meaningless, afraid of success

film noir: overstyled (see "aesthetic") depiction of archaic film archetypes--such as existential private detectives and thugs--shot in moody black and white

harrowing: manipulative

homage: plagiarism

human spirit: sentimental component of the viewing audience most likely to be pandered to by cowardly filmmakers

identity: homosexuality

magical realism: unwilling suspension of disbelief, usually in Spanish

meditation: synonym for "movie that takes itself too seriously"

operatic: gratuitous, violent

psychological: quasi-intellectual, violent

psychosexual: gay, violent

quirky: gay, cloying

redemption: the inevitable destination of all protagonists

road picture: genre whose chief elements include unshaven men, unwashed cars, infinite highways, and a search for they know not what

self-conscious: intellectually and morally lazy

semi-autobiographical: autobiographical

seriocomic: neither serious nor funny

sociopolitical: leftist

Tarantinoesque: violent, derivative (see also, "dark comedy," "homage," "self-conscious"); most commonly used to describe films made by recent film-school graduates; not necessarily applicable to the work of Quentin Tarantino

tone poem: a long series of somber, unintelligible images (see also, "meditation")

uplifting: gay

visceral: see "harrowing"

visual fabric: see "aesthetic"

visual language: see "visual fabric"

visual texture: see "visual language"

well-intentioned: artistically inferior