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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
275

favorite websites for researching movies
Topic by: kaream
Posted: July 20, 2008 - 12:15 AM PDT
Last Reply: July 21, 2008 - 11:58 PM PDT

author topic: favorite websites for researching movies
kaream
post #1  on July 20, 2008 - 12:15 AM PDT  
As has been pointed out from time to time here in these discussion boards, GreenCine's Search facility -- including Advanced Search -- usually works pretty well, but occasionally it does leave something to be desired.

I have a few favorite websites, in addition to GreenCine, that I consult for different kinds of information about movies; other members might also find some of these to be useful. And I hope you will respond by posting your own suggested sites, or by pointing out additional features, strengths, or flaws in the ones mentioned here.

For generally authoritative information on film titles and crew, the best site is imdb.com. IMDb is not always complete or entirely error-free, but still it's as authoritative as you can get. They attempt to list every known commercial film ever made, and every crew member (in its largest sense, including writers, producers, directors, actors, etc), as well as such details as studios, distributors, country, language, runtimes, ratings, soundtrack music, awards, initial release date, etc etc. One handy but probably overlooked facility here is the ability to find titles in which two or more specific people -- in any capacity -- were involved.

To a lesser (but constantly growing) extent wikipedia.org also contains information on many movies and people associated with them. Sometimes this data is simply taken from IMDb listings, but not infrequently Wikipedia entries will contain additional, or different, information.

For information about current availability in whatever home-viewing format, the best source seems to be amazon.com. Amazon apparently attempts to stock, or at least to list, nearly every available in-print DVD issue. Some hardcore pornography is listed, but much is not; there may also be lacunae in anime and some other specialty genres. Many importers and resellers of specialty and/or out-of-print DVDs list and sell their holdings through Amazon's safe and guaranteed website. Some of these offerings will have been preowned, in various condition, but many are new, never opened. Naturally people will frequently prefer to rent a disc rather than buying one, but this gives you invaluable information about different versions produced and their availability.

When GreenCine does not stock a DVD that you'd like to rent, the best bet is to first check its availability at Amazon; and if it's not listed there, go back to IMDb to confirm the correct film title and/or actors, director, etc. Then if the movie is shown as being in print and available as a purchase directly from Amazon, that means it would also be available for GreenCine to buy, and you could recommend a purchase to GC's catalog department. On rare occasions GreenCine has also purchased a few copies of imports or out-of-print titles, provided they are either Region 1 or region-free, and GC staff feels that anticipated member demand will justify the expense.

For free-style searching where you are just rummaging for ideas, back and forth between movie titles, actors, directors, or genres, the netflix.com website can be very handy to use. You need not be a subscriber to use their site, and it's much easier and more intuitive for this kind of random searching than Amazon. (Blockbuster, on the other hand, is pretty useless in nearly all respects, with the exception that you can confirm online whether your neighborhood store stocks a specific movie that you want to run over and rent. Of course you should still call the store first to verify that a copy is actually in. Hollywood Video's website will tell you whether the chain carries a title, but not which stores stock it.)

To find professional reviews of movies, rottentomatoes.com has long been considered the best site to visit. Earlier this year RottenTomatoes underwent a major restructure of their interface, and it took them a while to make it about as user-friendly as it had been, but it now seems much improved. For a while RT was notorious for the tangle of obtrusive popup ads that had to be fought through as you tried to navigate to the wanted pages. In many ways, though, I still prefer the old look and features presented.

Another website that collates professional reviews is mrqe.com, or Movie Review Query Engine. This site is searchable only by titles, and doesn't attempt to assign its own overall average rating; but it's popup-free, and usually includes some reviews not referenced at RT.

Sensesofcinema.com is a free-access online journal devoted to the 'serious and eclectic discussion of cinema', containing many thoughtful essays and discussions on trends, genres, individual directors, etc, in much the same way GreenCine staff members and contributors provide here with their articles, primers and blogs, etc.

For user reviews of specific movies, the best and most trenchant tend to be posted at IMDb in their Comments section. Amazon is probably the next best place to look, and reviews posted there frequently also address good or bad aspects of the DVD itself, which can be especially helpful. Similarly, Netflix gets a lot of subscriber reviews, many of which can be useful. Again, Blockbuster isn't worth bothering with.

If something about a movie leaves you confused or just wanting to get other people's opinions, look through the Message Boards for that title at IMDb, or post your own question or comment there; many title entries will also have a FAQ section.

And when you can't remember the name of a movie, go to IMDb's I Need To Know section and post your query there. This board is patrolled by thousands of movie enthusiasts worldwide 24/7, who outdo each other in being first to identify the movie in question.

To check on different versions or cuts of a movie, particularly when both an R-rated and an unrated version have been issued, I'm not aware of any website that reliably addresses this issue. IMDb will frequently have an 'Alternate versions' section under their FAQ link -- see their entry for Malena, for instance. Some other sites to try are dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdcompare, and dvdcompare.net (aka 'rewind'); and occasionally you can glean some useful information from descriptions or reviews posted at Amazon. I'm sure there must be other sites I'm not aware of. Note that comparing runtimes is only roughly helpful -- the R version of Malena deletes 16 minutes from the original director's cut, while Swimming Pool deletes less than 45 seconds of fellatio, which even so is only implied rather than explicitly shown. (And here, the 'Alternate versions' entry at IMDb is incorrect -- it's only the blowjob that differs, not the full frontal nudity. (FWIW I thought it was pretty funny that the R version of Swimming Pool -- which does include nekkid and boob-bouncing coupling -- is mistakenly labeled PG-13 on the disc; the R warning doesn't appear onscreen until the end of the movie, and I can just imagine parents thinking it must be okay for the kids to watch.))

Finally, when you just want to check out and preview a movie's T&A/sex quotient, or ogle a specific actress in her various roles, celebritymoviearchive.com is the best site I'm aware of for this -- and unlike many such sites, it's completely safe and virus-free.


I'm confident other members will have their own suggested websites for researching movies, or comments or corrections to make concerning the ones I've mentioned. So fire away!
kaream
post #2  on July 21, 2008 - 3:00 AM PDT  
> On July 20, 2008 - 12:15 AM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> For free-style searching where you are just rummaging for ideas, back and forth between movie titles, actors, directors, or genres, the netflix.com website can be very handy to use. You need not be a subscriber to use their site, and it's much easier and more intuitive for this kind of random searching than Amazon.
> ---------------------------------

One of the main reasons Netflix is such a good site for searching is their hover feature. Just hold your pointer over any title, and after a second a balloon pops up with the essential information, so you aren't having to constantly click on entries and being taken to a different webpage just to see what the movie basically is. This saves enormous amounts of time.
kaream
post #3  on July 21, 2008 - 3:13 AM PDT  
> On July 20, 2008 - 12:15 AM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> For information about current availability
> ...
> When GreenCine does not stock a DVD that you'd like to rent, the best bet is to first check its availability at Amazon; and if it's not listed there, go back to IMDb to confirm the correct film title and/or actors, director, etc. Then if the movie is shown as being in print and available as a purchase directly from Amazon, that means it would also be available for GreenCine to buy, and you could recommend a purchase to GC's catalog department. On rare occasions GreenCine has also purchased a few copies of imports or out-of-print titles, provided they are either Region 1 or region-free, and GC staff feels that anticipated member demand will justify the expense.
> ---------------------------------

It shouldn't seem necessary to point out that if you do a moment's worth of checking on the status of a movie before asking GreenCine to stock it, it would save a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of GC's hardworking and harried staff. I'm guessing that if a cite is given in the request, they're also more likely to follow through with the necessary research, and just might be more inclined and quicker to place an order for it.
underdog
post #4  on July 21, 2008 - 9:19 AM PDT  
Thanks for all this! Very useful to everyone, I should think. And yes, we do get many requests for titles that are not out on DVD at all, so we always appreciate when people do their homework first before requesting, but we're glad to check either way.

Btw, for an offsite (offline) research tool, I love TimeOut's Film Guide, which they update and republish every year, out of the UK. Not only has their fine capsule reviews but also a huge index in the back which is fun to browse.
janeskid
post #5  on July 21, 2008 - 10:50 AM PDT  
I have greencine.com and "product main" in my drop down menus at Google. One can then toss almost any keyword into Google and they may offer corrected spelling and one can usually see very quickly if Greencine has a product main page on it.

Vanamonde
post #6  on July 21, 2008 - 11:58 PM PDT  
> On July 20, 2008 - 12:15 AM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> For generally authoritative information on film titles and crew, the best site is imdb.com. IMDb is not always complete or entirely error-free, but still it's as authoritative as you can get.
>
> ---------------------------------

I do Wikipedia first. First, it is so much easier on the eyes, a better designed page. And like IMDb, it is not and will not ever be 100% compelete or error-free but it is improving. Then if it fails me, THEN I goto IMDb.

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