When movie website Letterboxd first started, I tinkered around with it a bit. I made a profile, rated a number of films on there, and explored the diary feature a little. Then I decided that it wasn’t something I needed. I already use a number of different sites to keep track of what I’ve seen, chiefly Flickchart, I Check Movies, and Swedish Filmtipset. Did I really need another one? At the time, the answer seemed to be “no.”
I’m changing my mind now, at least temporarily. I was lead back to the site after I decided to put together a list of all the films I’ve rated 5/5. At first I used IMDB for this, which turned out to be a horrendous battle against a UI dead-set on user unfriendliness. After venting my frustrations about it on Twitter, people told me to use Letterboxd instead. So I did. It became apparent right away that its list-making tool was way smoother, but then I started noticing other things I liked about the site.
(Said list of 5/5 movies is now available here on the blog too under the name 5/5 Solid Gold, and can be reached by clicking it on the top bar.)
The chief thing that makes Letterboxd different from other sites I use is its focus on community. Many websites just have you rating movies in a bubble. Sure, there might be an option to add people as friends, or maybe a forum, but they’re still mostly solitary experiences. Letterboxd is closer to a social network in a way, as you can always see what your friends are up to: what they’ve watched, what they’ve reviewed, what lists they’ve made, what reviews they’ve liked, and so on. It’s all integrated very well.
Another great thing about Letterboxd is its stylish look. Movies are often grouped together in grids by their poster arts rather than in the usual list format – though that’s available too – which is quite pleasing on the eyes. I also dig the way artwork or images from a film is used on its page, softly blurred into the background. Very cool.
So what have I been doing on Letterboxd so far? Mostly, I’ve been rating movies. I have a substantial backlog of films I’ve seen in my life – not as many as a lot of you I reckon, but it’s still in the 1500 range – and this should ideally all be caught up on. I haven’t done this in any organized manner; I’ve mostly looked through recent reviews on the site and rated whenever a movie I’ve seen has appeared, plus I’ve started rating all the films in my collection too. At the time of this writing, I have managed 609 ratings. Still a long way to go.
Letterboxd uses a 5 star rating scale, which suits me fine; 5 steps is what I’m accustomed too using. They allow for half-stars, though. At first I figured I’d ignore those and just use full stars myself, but eventually I realized there were some cases where I was a bit too torn on what score to give, or my memory of a film or its rating was too hazy, and this is where the half-stars come in handy. I’ll use them on Letterboxd, but most likely not elsewhere. I do prefer the logic of a 5 point system only having 5 steps.
The site also allows you to organize your watching in journal style, by which I mean that you can fill out on what particular date you watched a film, and even make entries upon rewatches and how your ratings change and all that. This is very nifty, and I wish it all had existed when I first started getting into movies in a big way five years ago. While I have a lot of time-related data to mine from Filmtipset, entering the whens of all my movies manually on Letterboxd is probably too much work for me to ever go through all my viewing history. We’ll see I’ll use it for future watching, however.
I’ve also made some more lists. In addition to the 5/5 list, I also have one of films I own but haven’t seen yet, and one of films I haven’t rewatched since buying them. I figure having them on display like this might work as an incentive to get around to them sooner. I’ve also started on cataloguing my DVD and Blu-ray collection, but that’s still very much a work in progress and is kept behind the scenes so far. I have some plans for further lists too. It’s weird how making lists can be so fun.
So that’s what I’ve been preoccupied with the last few days. If you’re already on Letterboxd or have been inspired to try it out, do look me up. My profile page is HERE. Maybe we can be friends there too.