Saturday, February 18, 2012
Letterboxd Puts Film Obsession in Order
Posted by Courtney Small
A little over a week ago I signed up for Letterboxd and it ignited a former passion that I had long forgotten. If you have not yet experienced Letterboxd let me provide a brief synopsis. Currently in its beta version, Letterboxd is a site that allows you track the films that you and your friends have recently watched. Think of a film centric version of Facebook without the annoying apps or the mundane status updates. Besides logging what you have recently viewed, the site allows you to write mini reviews, create film centric lists, comment on what others have scene, etc.
Now you are probably thinking “why would you sign up for something like that if you already have a film blog?” Well the answer is two-fold. The most obvious reason is that I do not write about every film I see on this site. While I know many bloggers are now keeping track on their blogs of what they watched during the week and/or month, I have never been that organized. Heck, even when I am listing a few films I have seen on other people’s sites I always end up forgetting a film or two. So having Letterboxd is rather nice, since you can log a movie with a simple click of a button.
While the simplicity of the site is nice, the main reason I signed up for Letterboxd is to keep track of all the films I have seen over the span of my life. It is this feature that has enticed me the most. From a young age I have always been interested in documenting my own personal film history. When I was much younger I use to have binders full of film reviews cut out from the Friday edition of the Toronto Star newspaper. I not only loved to read about the latest films, but I would often go back to those binders after seeing a film to see if my thoughts matched up with film critics like Peter Howell, Geoff Pevere and many others. Although I was underage at the time, I use to wait until a lot of the R-rated films or foreign titles hit The Movie Network. Though it seems silly looking back on it, those binders served as a nice log for many of the films I saw during that period.
As I got older I gave up the paper clippings, as frequently ink-stained hands became a bit of a nuisance, and turned my attention to the DVD Aficionado website. That not only allowed me to keep track of the DVDs I owned, but some of the movies I had seen as well. The problem with that site was that I did not find it to be user friendly. Plus, all the various DVD formats and covers made it time consuming to locate the exact copy of the film I had. It has been well over a decade since I last thought about trying to attempt any type of film log on such a large scale. This, of course, has changed in the last week or so.
When I told my wife about my plan to use Letterboxd to figure out how many films I have seen in my life, or at least a ballpark estimate, her first response was “you’re crazy!” She is probably right as I am fully aware that my quest is doomed from the start since I have already come across at least thirty films not currently listed on Letterboxd. Still it is a venture I plan to attempt nonetheless. Despite some limitations in regards to certain titles, I am actually surprised by the amount of films that are included on the site. I have been able to find obscure foreign films that I have seen at festivals which very few people I know have seen. The best thing of all is that the site even has many of the B-movie level action film, including the ones starring a pre-Tae Bo Billy Blanks, that I use to spend my Saturday nights watching when I was a kid.
There is no prize for seeing the most films, or even the best quality of films, as everyone’s film taste is vastly different. My quest is not even about having bragging rights over my friends as I know there is no way I could top friends already on the site. This is purely something that I have thought about doing for a long time and never had the proper means to do so. I know that one day, when my son grows up, he will probably ask me “how many films do you think you have seen in your life?”, and I would love to have an answer besides the generic “I’ve seen too many to count.” I am sure it will take a few years before I really have a good gauge on the number of films I have seen, but I am in no rush by any means. This is something that I am more than happy to work on in my spare time here and there.
Once again, I know that it might be impossible to truly capture ever single film I have seen on the site. Plus it is tough to remember some of the more forgettable titles that you have endured. However, there is something inherently exciting about finally having a place where I can truly track the films I have seen in a simple format. I would be perfectly happy with a rough estimate. Now if you will excuse me, I just remembered two more films I need to log.