Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Importing Flixster Reviews to Letterboxd

Today was a triumphant day as I finally finished figuring out how to import my Flixster reviews (all 872) into Letterboxd. Letterboxd can import reviews, but they have to follow a specific format. Here's the post from letterboxd feedback that got me started (courtesy of lestyn Lloyd):

I followed this guide for getting the JSON file and converting to CSV, if you know what you're doing it takes 2 minutes http://melitamihaljevic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/sunday-hacking-get-your-movie-ratings.html
- Login to Facebook 
- Access the Flixster page in the apps menu 
- Once on the Flixster FB app, access your Account via the profile 
- Under your account, you'll see a link to access your ratings, click on this - mine was 350 movies, hence me wanting to get these out and doing this 
- This only displays 8 movies at a time though, and you need to click on Load More at the bottom of the page 
- In the URL however, you'll see your Flixster user ID e.g. http://www.flixster.com/user/xxxxxxxxx/ratings/ a ~9 digit number shown here by x's - make a note of this number 
- Now insert your Flixster ID number into the following URL:https://www.flixster.com/api/users/xxxxxxxxx/movies/ratings?scoreTypes=numeric&page=1&limit=zzzadjusting limit=zzz where this is the number of ratings you made for movies (mine was 350). You can also adjust page if you like. With 350 mine took ages to load but it did complete 
- The JSON code may look like gibberish so you may want to go tohttps://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jsonview/chklaanhfefbnpoihckbnefhakgolnmc and install this extension for Google's Chrome browser which will allow you to view it in a more meaningful manner 
- You can go to File > Save As... and save the JSON file to your computer.
SO, I got as far as the JSON file, which is pretty much one long string of numbers and text on a web page. I tried saving it to my computer, but it didn't automatically assign it a file extension, so Windows didn't know how to open it. So I poked around online to see I could do an online conversion, and found the best one (or should I say the only one that converted it the way it supposed to) right here: http://konklone.io/json/. I copied and pasted the JSON text into the converter. What I got then was a CSV file--basically a spreadsheet with all the information in it. I then tried uploading the file into letterboxd, but it wouldn't take it. So I looked again at the import rules and saw that there had to be specific category headings, like "Year," "Rating," "Title," etc. which were different that the headings Flixster had. Once I went in and changed the appropriate ones (letterboxd just ignored anything extraneous), the file loaded relatively quickly. I went through the list and sorted out any films letterboxd hadn't found (typically because of specific wording in the title), and imported the ratings. Voila! Six years of film ratings and reviews reclaimed! And I now have a CSV backup of all my Flixster reviews. 
I do love the Internet.

My Letterboxd Films: 2013 vs. 2014

The end of 2014 marked the end of two full years of logging films on Letterboxd. Because I am a PRO member (only 19 bucks a year, well worth it!) I get an analysis of my watching, from films per week to most watched directors, etc. Here's a brief rundown of the past two years.

I watched 120 films in 2014 vs. 125 in 2013, which averages down to 2.3 vs. 2.4 films a week. In 2014, there were 14 weeks in which I watched 4 or more films vs. 8 in which I did not watch any at all. My max was 6 films in a week, which I did 4 times throughout the year. Total watch time: 213.4 hours.

In 2013, there were 11 weeks in which I watched 4 or more films vs. 13 in which I did not watch any. My max was 8 films in a week, from Dec 17-23 (this was when I had two free months of MUBI and was watching at least a film a day). I also watched 7 movies in a week 4 times. From August 27 to September 30, 2013, I watched a whopping 32 films! Total watch time: 213.6 hours.

My Letterboxd Films: Movies I've Watched Sorted By Decade

Some more fun stats from Letterboxd. Films I have watched in
2010s: 236
2000s: 633
1990s: 106
1980s: 96
1970s: 65
1960s: 51
1950s: 31
1940s: 21
1930s: 11
1920s: 8
1910s: 1 (Birth of a Nation, baby!)
I'm definitely a modern film kinda guy, I guess.

My Letterboxd Films: Ratings Analysis

I so love letterboxd's (try pronouncing that) sorting capabilities. Here's my ratings breakdown, followed by a little analysis of my rating tendencies.
5 stars: 22 films
4.5 stars: 72
4 stars: 273
3.5 stars: 284
3 stars: 257
2.5 stars: 125
2 stars: 64
1.5 stars: 19
1 star: 11
.5 stars: 3 films
So, evidently I don't *really* hate or *really* love too many films. Sometimes I think I'm too forgiving of cinema, so it was nice to see at least that I've only given 5 star ratings to 1.9% of my films. Add 4.5 star films and you're still at less than 10% (8.3). But then my tendency to generally like everything I see shows itself clearly, with 3 to 4 star ratings accounting for a whopping 72% of my films. At 2 1/2 stars, the good and the bad balance each other out, so it's really in a category by itself as I'm on the fence about whether I like or don't like the film. At 2 stars, there are some bright spots, but I have a generally negative view of the film. Below that, I pretty much thoroughly dislike a film, and to be honest, whether I rate a film .5, 1, or 1.5 stars depends on how annoyed I am that my time was wasted by the film (I know I could stop watching, but I have this weird OCD thing about having to finish a film once I start it, even if it takes months or years). Everything from 2.5 stars and under only accounts for 18% of my watching, with films I actually dislike in some measure taking up only 8.3% (weird, just like the highest ratings) of the pile.

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Which Adrienne Asks My Opinion About Horror Movies in 2007

adrienne furness <adriennefurness@gmail.com> wrote:
Would you please help me write a post for watat.com?
I would like to make a list of the most important horror films of the first half of the 2000s (i.e. 2000-2005). I have some ideas about what I think are the most important films, but I would like your studied opinion. :) I'm curious what we'll agree on because if you and I both think something's important, it must be important. I'll give you credit in the entry, too, using all five letters in your name and everything. (I mentioned you by name a couple weeks ago, too, but it was terribly unrewarding when you didn't notice. I'll persist, though. Perhaps it will eventually encourage you to tune in more frequently....)
Smiles and hugs, Adrienne :)

Jason Poole

to adrienneme
Let's say the last ten years or so, because then we can include Scream. I mean, the modern teen slasher still holds its own at the box office, so you kind of have to include something from that genre...
Which suddenly brings me to the thought of general categories for horror movies. What would you add to these broad categories?
-Teen slasher
-Sadistic serial killer(s)
-Japanese remakes (there are enough now for their own category!! :) And, stylistically, they do have a different feel to them, I think...
-Sci-Fi horror, which I'd have to think more about. It straddles genres more so than the others but definitely deserves to be a separate category: Alien, Pitch Black, The Thing
-Supernatural (I'd have to think more about this as well. Though these last two are established sub-genres, I can't think offhand that anything innovative has been done in recent years as much as the first few. Definitely keep an eye on them, though, because they'll be next :))
OK, so here a few modern horror movies that I think have pushed traditional boundaries:
-Shaun of the Dead took zombies movies in a new, hilariously funny direction. One of the best zombie films ever!
-28 Days Later introduced quicker, more violent zombies, made you feel like it could really happen, and had an original European ending that was depressingly bleak.
-Cabin Fever and Hostel share billing more because of the emergence of stereotype-bending Eli Roth as a horror director than the films themselves -- which are well-done, but have weaknesses.
-Saw was among the first of the more twistedly violent serial killer horror films.
-Wolf Creek, while it follows Saw's lead ino the world of more gory horror, gets special mention because it was actually banned in some places- AND it crossed the reality boundary in a way the Saw didn't.
-The Ring- If it's not the first in the Japanese horror-remake explosion, it is certainly the most well-known. Ringu probably deserves mention for being its inspiration, but I've ony read the manga adaptation :).
-I wouldn't have thought of it before our conversation, but Scream was certainly among the first modern teen slashers. I've seen a bunch of these, but because it's a little older than the other proposed genres, I haven't seen many of the ones that came out before I really got into horror. I'll need your help in that area :).
-The Devil's Rejects- The bad guys are the good guys, but they're still so bad... although, are they really deep down? Yes, yes, of course they are- they've done horrible things... and yet, they're kind of funny, and they look our for each other, butstill... oh, dammit!! The sequel to Rob Zombie's acclaimed low-budget bloodfest was even better and took evil bad guy characterization to new, uncomfortable places.
-The Blair Witch Project spent too much time in the limelight, and now gets spoofed more than copied. But the truth is that it was creatively and effectively engaging and scary on a super low budget and encouraged aspiring horror directors worldwide.
I think Descent was among the best horror films that came out this year, but I not sure it added anything really new or innovative to horror as a genre. You know what I mean? The setting was certainly new, but a lot of the other elements were familiar. I would cite it as an example of classic horror excellently executed (no pun intended. heh.)
Well, that's all I got for now. What do you think? I look forward to your response!! Thanks for including me :).

Monday, October 7, 2013

You Can Actually Survive in Space Without a Suit for About 30 Seconds if You Hold Your Breath

I just poured myself a bowl of Lucky Charms, so I think I will be able to stay focused long enough to write something about Gravity while it's fresh in my mind.
Wow, what a ride! But in addition to being really entertaining, this was a really well-crafted film. I kept wondering throughout whether or not it was realistic. It felt so realistic, I was able to suspend my disbelief for pretty much all of the film. I still have't read the NY Times article Adrienne recommended, where a scientist says that most of it is possible, but I never felt like too much was being asked of me in that way while I was watching it.
It's kind of hard to know what to write about it, because the plot is pretty much not a plot. A woman gets lost in orbit and makes it back home. So what makes this movie compelling? Well, there's a lot of suspense--Cuaron's pacing is nearly perfectly balanced between moments of calm and moments of intense action. There's not really much middle ground. It's either really quiet or really intense. The part where ghost Clooney comes and gives her a pep talk borders on preachy, but by the time you get to the end of the scene it balances itself out.
The acting was great and it was beautiful to look at. It grabs you at your core--survival and life is beautiful and all that.
I honestly thought I'd have more to say about it. I think I suck at writing movie reviews.
The End.
P.S. I gave it 5 stars in Letterboxd, and I almost never give a film 5 stars that I've only seen once. That should tell you how good I think it is.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back in the Saddle (briefly, probably)

After a relatively dry spell, I've watched 9 films in the last 7 days--a feat unmatched in any given month since March. I don't know that that warrants a blog post, but for those who don't count anything but blog posts as official participation in film club--this is for you (John).
Most of what I've watched in the last week was unremarkable. Particularly Dinosaur Island (1994, Olen Ray/Winorski), which was so bad I was too embarrassed to log it on Letterboxd (but I'm not afraid to admit it to you guys). But there were a couple that warranted a few extra comments that I will add here.

I know most of y'all aren't into documentaries, but I thought Wish Me Away (2011, Birleffi/Kopf) was especially good. However, I'm not always good at judging the allure of the material vs. the quality of the filmmaking (see Brother's Keeper), so I don't know if it was a well-made film or not. I appreciated Chely Wright's transparency in the interviews--she comes across almost innocent and naive--and it seems genuine. When the camera's rolling, it can be hard to be genuine, and either she's a spectacular actress or it's real. The most compelling argument for why she would allow herself to be so vulnerable onscreen would be for the sake of those who would watch the film, so I'm choosing to believe it. I can't imagine anyone in film club (except maybe Ben) wanting to watch a movie about a Christian country music star coming out as a lesbian, but I'd like to recommend it anyway.

I remember when JCVD (2008, El Mechri) came out it made quite a stir--it being not only a more complex role for the usually one-dimensional action hero, but one in which he plays himself, or possibly a caricature of himself. I got the DVD on discount when a Blockbuster was going out of business several years ago and only got around to watching it recently. I only gave it three stars because the bad guys were unbelievably lame, but Van Damme's performance was really good. Can you do a bad job playing yourself, though? I could imagine anyone from film club watching this one, and would be curious what others' take on it is.

Rubber (2010, Dupieux) is about a car tire in the desert that kills living things using psychokinesis. I don't know if anyone from film club has seen this, but I can imagine everyone watching it as well. I don't think everyone would like it, though. Maybe they would. It's weird enough that one could accuse it of being too self-consciously so, but also multi-faceted in its weirdness. It's unusual in that you're not sure where the story's going overall, but within a scene you can predict with some accuracy what's going to happen next because it adopts some classic tropes and uses them for humor more than horror because of the fact that it's a tire instead of, say, a homicidal maniac. The other element of weirdness involves a subplot (or is the tire the subplot) that includes characters who are spectators and characters who break character as well as the fourth wall. I've seen a trailer for Dupieux's more recent film Wrong and am hoping to check it out soon.