Hollywood churns out so many movies every year. Even for an ardent movie buff, it is tough to stay on top all hot releases, let alone good ones. If you a are a casual moviegoer, then it is doubly tough to know which movie is watchable and worth making the trip to a theatre or paying up for on an on-demand service.
For years, IMDB has been the primary source of movie related information and they do have a great database. Except for a few changes to the homepage, though, the website remains its same old clunky self. Letterboxd is a new web app that’s focused on helping movie fans find and recommend movies socially. It does so with a modern UI that puts movies front and center.
Letterboxd is designed as a social site for sharing your taste in film. Use it as a diary to record your opinion about films as you watch them, or just to keep track of films you’ve seen some time in the past. Apart from being able to rate, review, and tag films you add, using the web app you can find and follow your friends, to see what they’re enjoying. You can also make lists about any aspect of film you like, for example – Top Ten Westerns you like.
The developers make it clear that at some point they might introduce paid accounts of some kind, but there will always be a free option. The web app is currently in private beta and I got my invite after couple of weeks of registering.
I love dark color themes, in particular, black. I’m not sure if everyone is a fan of a dark theme, but with so many colorful movie posters in thumbnail view, it looks breathtaking. For a service in private beta, they have built up a sizable user generated content (like reviews, lists, ratings etc.). Movies that are popular among users and the newly added ones are showcased right at the top for easy access.
Ease of Use
Everything in Letterboxd is ready for you to make your account, your own. Hover over a movie title to mark it as seen, liked, add it to a watchlist, buy from iTunes, and more. This builds up a record in your profile of the kind of films you like. If you’d like to review a film, or log the date you watched it, use the ‘Add a Film’ button — do this as you watch films, or retrospectively to share an opinion later. When reviewing (or logging) a film, you can optionally rate and/or like it, and add tags (for the film itself or to remind you where/with whom you saw it).
Lists are a great way to discover interesting content to watch. and Letterboxd provides easy tools for making and sharing lists/collections of films. You have the option to make the list public or keep it to yourself. I tried creating a list of 10 movies I am looking forward to see this year and found it to be a no-brainer.
The movie information page has only the useful information we normally look for- storyline, top billed cast and crew, release date, user ratings, and beautifully compiled, spam free reviews. Trailers are from YouTube and you can watch them without leaving the app. Tags are omnipresent and they make everyone’s life easier.
The Activity dashboard of Letterboxd keeps track of all your interactions. The watchlist feature is something that will be of immense help to me personally. Until now, I’ve always created a watchlist by bookmarking IMDB links to my Springpad. That’s over now!
For all its social and visual glossiness, Letterboxd at the core functions more like IMDB, but better. It is the better part that should be taken into account, because the developers have done a wonderful job making movie information pages a lot more bearable. The lists feature is another aspect that Letterboxd has designed it into something that actually people can create and consume with ease.
A couple of tweaks could make Letterboxd a great place to recommend stuff to fellow moviebuffs. First, it’s a bit hard to find a way to rate the movie. Instead of making the user to go to each and every movie details page (or hiding it under a menu), they should consider adding it by the side of liked and watched icons. The second tweak is quite big - personalized recommendations. Now that they have a functional database with user engagement, working on a full blown recommendation engine ala. Glue, would make Letterboxd a formidable player in this vertical.
Share Your Thoughts!
Where do you get your movie recommendations? How many of these social movie/TV recommendation apps do you know about and use?