I read about whattorent.com recently and am just now trying it out. It puts you through a little personality test first on the theory that most movie recommending agents are biased toward film geeks. Of course, I am a bit of a film geek, so it may be a moot issue, but the recommendations have been pretty good so far. It’s giving me lots of Fellini and Scorsese, most of which I’ve seen, but that’s pretty astute.

One objection I have to it so far is that it doesn’t separate violence from other “adult content.” I have no problem watching John Waters films or any other bizarre underworld stuff, drug references are no big deal to me, and language is just language. But I’d like to be able to separate that from violence as in, say, war movies. I appreciate that there are many great war movies out there, such as Platoon and Apocolypse Now, but I simply cannot imagine myself getting through them or, more to the point, getting through the night after watching them without nightmares.

Anyway, other than that, I’m quite taken with it. Try it yourself!

Whattorent.com

11 thoughts on “Whattorent.com

  • January 30, 2005 at 8:35 am
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    It’s interesting.

    I don’t see what telling it what my first love was like has any bearing on my love for movies though.

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  • January 30, 2005 at 8:39 am
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    I know, how about it? That was weird.

    My guess is it was just checking for use of semicolons to see if you’d appreciate pretentious film. So I made sure to use at least three. 😉 (And not in winky-faces, either!)

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  • January 30, 2005 at 8:49 am
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    After all, the semi-colon IS the most pretentious form of punctuation.

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  • January 30, 2005 at 8:52 am
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    It is! I can’t think of another more pretentious; it’s like holding your nose in the air while you speak. (Hmm. I could’ve arguably used a colon there, I think, depending on how you read it. Colons are not very pretentious at all. They seem more militaristic.)

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  • January 30, 2005 at 9:59 am
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    The not separating violence from other “adult content” is a huge problem — like you, I don’t care at all about drug references and “coarse language.” For me, though, the issue with violence (as it took me forever to figure out) is that if it is there, I want to know that the characters are going to react to it emotionally, and that those reactions are going to be part of the story. So I hate, hate, hate action movies where people participate in car chases or shootouts and then walk away with their arm around the girl without any emotional consequences from that, but if I’m in the right mood, I can take movies where violence is treated as a horror (in the same way I can take movies where there is other difficult emotional content). I’m dubious about their ability to test for that in my personality, though.

    Another issue, at least for me, is that part of what I like or dislike about a movie has to do with my personal taste, but an even bigger part has to do with whether it’s, well, *good*. I’m not a huge fan of the romantic comedy genre, for example, but I love the ones that are creative and well-made and involve interesting characters I can believe are real. And deep emotional dramas tend to be my favourite kinds of films, but I won’t like a movie just because it’s a deep emotional drama — it also has to be have an interesting story, be well-made, and involve characters who engage me. In fact, the single most determining factor in whether I will see a film doesn’t have to do with its genre, but with its IMDB rating. Other automatic movie recommendation software I’ve looked at in the past (such as the one built into zip.ca) has been pretty worthless to me for this reason, and I don’t think this one is going to be different. Bah.

    -J

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  • January 30, 2005 at 10:25 am
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    Yeah, that kind of quality attribute is certainly subjective, but it’s still measurable. I read that the whattorent.com stuff is driven underneath the covers partly by algorithm and partly by actual human editorial preferences. Humans attribute “personalities” to the films and then follow the satisfaction metrics to see how the recommendations are doing. To me, that seems like a smart way to handle it, so I’m giving it a shot for a few weeks to see how well it does.

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  • January 30, 2005 at 1:54 pm
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    Huh. Well, cool. It was mostly coming up with things that didn’t quite work for me, but maybe I didn’t click enough times.

    -J

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  • January 30, 2005 at 2:18 pm
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    i’m fascinated with it!

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  • January 30, 2005 at 2:22 pm
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    i left the ‘first love’ q&a textbox empty.
    first pick suggested was Resevoir Dogs.

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  • January 30, 2005 at 2:24 pm
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    Because clearly you are a heartless and unloving person? Heh. Strange.

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  • January 30, 2005 at 6:58 pm
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    Interesting. I’ve just added three of the first four recommendations to my Netflix queue. I’d already seen and enjoyed the first recommendation. Thanks!

    Reply

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