Ebert is now fat AND obsolete.
February 8, 2004 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What to Rent Computers now recommending movie rentals to people.
posted by AVandalay (24 comments total)
"Question 7:
If someone said- "Lets go see a great new independent foreign movie with English subtitiles that has some powerful yet difficult to handle scenes", you would think:

If someone said that, I'm likely to punch the person in the face. I like the concept of this site though, and I'm going to give it a fair chance. Nice link!
posted by howa2396 at 11:20 AM on February 8, 2004

See also gnod.
posted by abcde at 11:21 AM on February 8, 2004

or movielens.
posted by TimeFactor at 11:31 AM on February 8, 2004

dang sliders don't work in safari. punk-ass bastids.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:44 AM on February 8, 2004

This thing only tells you what movies you'd like. It doesn't tell you whether they're any good or not. Hence, movie critics are not obsolete.
posted by kindall at 12:02 PM on February 8, 2004

Do movie critics serve any purpose other than to guide people in what movies to watch?
posted by AVandalay at 12:09 PM on February 8, 2004

Yes, they do. Movie critics often write reviews that are better than the movies themselves.
posted by whatzit at 12:23 PM on February 8, 2004

I'll give props to that based on the ultimate crtic:The Filthy Critic
posted by AVandalay at 12:35 PM on February 8, 2004

I've heard about this site in this news. I heard that they were thinking of adopting it's matching algorithms to replace the current system used to match applicants to medical schools/internships in the US.
posted by bonzo at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2004

'One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' is now a popcorn movie that probably won't impact me deeply? They spotted my desensitisation in around 20 questions?
posted by biffa at 1:08 PM on February 8, 2004

I used to work on a site that did this as of ... oh, five or six YEARS ago...

posted by SpecialK at 1:37 PM on February 8, 2004

Too bad (ForMovies.com) is commercialized swag. Its movie recommendation wizard just told me where my nearest blockbuster is. I already knew it was next to Kroger.
posted by AVandalay at 1:43 PM on February 8, 2004

About the first 10 recommendations were already in my collection... either my tastes are very predictable, or this site does its job well.
posted by themadjuggler at 2:16 PM on February 8, 2004

I remember a company doing this sort of thing years ago called Firefly that went out of business, (wired article). I've never found any of these recommendation sites all that useful.
posted by bobo123 at 2:27 PM on February 8, 2004

Explicitly gathering recommendations is a pain and the vast majority of users don't bother. That's why the most successful recommendation systems are implicit ones (Amazon, Netflix). I've been looking for something similar for internet radio (last.fm is close, audioscrobbler closer, but I'd like something more integrated with a media player). And of course, I think memigo's pretty good (self-plug) at doing the same for news...
posted by costas at 6:06 PM on February 8, 2004

Hmm. Using Safari, the slider icon is treated like an image, and can be dragged anywhere on the desktop. When released, it returns to its original position. Nice.
posted by stonerose at 6:58 PM on February 8, 2004

It couldn't come up with a single movie I haven't seen....

Movie critics often write reviews that are better than the movies themselves.

I couldn't agree more! Criticism is an art, and I often obtain more pleasure from the review than from the movie.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:49 PM on February 8, 2004

I think this is phony. I tried the service twice with wildly different entries and got very similar results. Since I have the most recent results up now, here they are:

Secretary, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ,The Man Who Wasn't There, Trainspotting, Amadeus, City of God, American Psycho, Full Metal Jacket, Boogie Nights, Y Tu Mama Tambien, In the Bedroom, The Hustler

Anybody get similar predictions?

How about Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, Chasing Amy, Run Lola Run, A Clockwork Orange, Clerks, Punch Drunk Love
posted by crazy finger at 9:40 PM on February 8, 2004

Avan - Yeah, interface change that I had no part in whatsoever, happened after I got laid off. Once you get to one of the store's sites it'll run you through a good guide process... and from then on, all of the interfaces will work the way they should.
posted by SpecialK at 9:54 PM on February 8, 2004

(Wish I could edit to say -- Hit MovieWizard from www.formovies.com ... and then put in your zip code and select one of the store websites. Then select MovieWizard AGAIN and it'll actually get you into the guide.)
posted by SpecialK at 10:00 PM on February 8, 2004

I put in ratings for close to two thousand films at netflix.com and so far their recommendations are running about fifty fifty. Meaning that a flip of the coin is just as useful. The above links don't look much better than netflix. They got a long way to go with computers before they'll replace Roger Ebert.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:28 PM on February 8, 2004

I'm a little suspicious; it recommended Secretary to me, too. I've seen it, and it isn't really that good, although it does seem to be a DVD-market hit (proving once again that Americans prefer their porn at home). Maybe it's just being secretly rented by just about everybody that rents anything interesting.

But I was most surprised at the personality survey question, What is your feeling about the current involvement in Iraq? (A 2-4 sentence reply is good enough for our algorithm.) Did everyone get this, or just me? Given MeFi, I'd imagine an immediate peg of WhatToRent as a Homeland Security front, and much fun had with the idea already.

Frankly, though, I get plenty of satisfaction from Amazon's The Page You Made feature, notwithstanding its separate recommendations system. It's very useful for some ad-hoc exploration outside of your self-defined universe of film. For my mother's church group movie night, for instance, I entered the last three family-themed, religious-overtoned films seen (e.g. Amistad & Finding Forrester, not talking Jesus here), and got some good challenging choices such as Antwone Fisher. They're watching Chocolat Wednesday despite my salutary efforts, but then again I don't have to be there.
posted by dhartung at 11:00 PM on February 8, 2004

Just another collaborative filtering engine. This technology is a commodity right now (it drives all the "since you have X in your shopping cart, you might check out Y" functionality), so I'm not sure what the big deal here is, unless they've come across some real leap in that technology.
posted by mkultra at 6:53 AM on February 9, 2004

I gave up after it gave me 30 movies in a row I'd already seen.
posted by rudyfink at 2:35 AM on February 10, 2004

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