Monday, September 10, 2012


It would seem that since social networking sites emerged in the Naughts they have become increasingly specialised. An example of this is the web site Letterboxd. Letterboxd is essentially a social network for film buffs. The site takes it name from the means of preserving the aspect ratio of widescreen films on a standard television screen.  Essentially the site is meant for people to share what films they have been watching and what they think of those films.

While Letterboxd is meant to be a social network, for me the primary attraction of the site is not particularly social at all. One can keep a diary of the films one has watched. I have found this feature particularly enjoyable. It is interesting to look back at the films one has watched over the last several months, to determine if there are any patterns in what one has been watching (Do they belong to a particular genre? Do they belong to a particular era?). While perhaps I should not speak for other Letterboxd users, if they are like me it is the feature they enjoy the most.

I suspect the other feature that will appeal to film buffs is the ability to rate and review films. One can rate movies anywhere from one to five stars, as well as provide reviews of those movies. There are appears to be no real limit on the length of reviews. They can be only a few words to several paragraphs. As might be expected, reading the reviews of others can be interesting and even illuminating with regards to various motion pictures.

In addition to being able to keep a diary of the films one has watched and being able to rate and review films, one can also make lists of films at Letterboxd. For example, I created a list of British rock musicals. List can vary greatly. I've seen lists of everything from alien invasion movies to the greatest Westerns of all time. Lists can be particularly useful if one wants to start watching movies in a particular genre (let's say "Thrillers"). All one has to do is find a list of the greatest thrillers of all time and start watching movies.

Of course, Letterboxd is a social network. Like Twitter one can follow other users, see what movies they are watching and what one thinks of them. This can be useful in learning what films one might want to watch. If one of your friends gives a particular movie a good review, one might then be more inclined to check it out.

Now there is a downside of Letterboxd. It relies on The Movie Database for its film entries. For those who don't know what The Movie Database is, it is a database of films not unlike IMDB. The problem is that The Movie Database (or TMBD as it is also called) is not nearly as comprehensive as IMDB, which means that one might actually have to add lesser known films. Now I expected that I would have to do this with Gonks Go Beat, a 1965 British rock musical based around gonks, a toy that was a bit of a fad in the United Kingdom in the mid-Sixties. I did not think I would have to add Bank Holiday (1938), a Carol Reed film starring Margaret Lockwood that is hardly obscure, yet I did.

Regardless, Letterboxd is an enjoyable site for anyone interested in films. While it is not a web site one will necessarily find himself or herself spending hours upon, it is certainly interesting to visit for minutes at a time. And it is also a  great way to keep track of the movies one has watched in the past several months.

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