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This article was published on September 5, 2014

Movli is a movie database, social network, and recommendation engine all in one

Movli is a movie database, social network, and recommendation engine all in one
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Even though it’s had $1.5 million in the coffers via a seed investment several years ago, Movli has remained an ‘under the radar’ startup for most people since its inception in 2011.

The Tel Aviv-based startup has recently launched its Web-based portal for film-lovers, as it looks to “transform the world’s movie-watching experience,” as the company puts it. The space it’s entering is pretty busy as things stand – there’s the long-established Amazon-owned IMDb for starters, while Jinni serves as a ‘semantic discovery engine’ designed to help you find ideas for movies to watch. Then there’s the lesser-known Letterboxd, a social network for movie buffs.

Movli is looking to centralize the three main activities it believes film fans are looking for online: social interaction around movies, accessing movie information, and getting movie recommendations.

There is, of course, one glaring ommission here – film fans generally like to watch films too. But we’ll get to that later.

For the most part Movli wants to recommend you films, while simultaneously letting you interact with like-minded people and delivering access to interesting factoids.

Movli uses the information you put in, including movie-ratings and watchlists, to build what it calls a “personalized genome” of your tastes. It then promises to serve up an accurate prediction of how much you’ll enjoy a certain film, which is given via its ‘Affinity Meter’.

Here’s a quick peek at how it works.

Movli movies

While you can browse without signing-in, its recommendation engine is based on your input – so it helps if you elect to not remain anonymous. For this, you will have to use either your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account – there’s no email option I’m afraid.

Next, you will see a row of tabs along the top – ‘All’, ‘New’, ‘Upcoming’, and ‘Free’, which are all self-explanatory (we’ll get to ‘Free’ later). When you hover your mouse over a movie, you indicate if you’ve seen a movie.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 10.54.55

If ‘Yes’, you give it a score out of 10, and this is added to your ‘Watched’ list.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 10.55.16

If you haven’t seen it, you can give it a priority rating of high-to-low, and it’s added to your ‘Watchlist’. Alternatively, if Star Trek really doesn’t float your boat, you can banish it to your ‘Blacklist’ forever.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 10.55.39

Each movie listing sports a brief description, with further taps revealing the cast, key quotes, locations, photos and soundtrack details.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 11.02.50

But it’s the filters that may prove particularly useful. Not only can you stipulate a decade, genre and rating (from IMDb or Movli itself), but you can focus on a film’s runtime (if you have a short attention span), and even if it’s won awards.

For example, you could search for Oscar-winning comedies made in the 1980s, that are less than two hours long.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 11.06.49

Over time, Movli learns what you like, and you can revisit your various lists in your profile.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 11.04.00

Moreover, when you follow someone or view their profile, their own tastes are fed in to you recommendations, but tweaked to your own tastes. For example, movies you’ve already watched, or ones that don’t match your specified tastes, are omitted.

Though there are direct links to buy/rent movies elsewhere (e.g. iTunes and Amazon), the intriguing little tab called ‘Free’ actually pulls together movies that are freely available to watch online, mostly via YouTube. You’re not going to find big blockbusters on here, but there are few decent classics, oldies and low-budget horror flicks available.

Screenshot 2014-09-03 11.09.07

Movli taps crowdsourced metadata platform Freebase and Wikipedia for most of its database, with a handful of additional APIs used (including YouTube) to “fill in the gaps.”

The verdict

There’s little question that Movli has been nicely designed, but its focus on ‘Web’ over mobile at a time when increasingly more people access the internet almost-excslusively from their pocket rocket, is a chink in its chain.

Yes, Movli works well enough on your smartphone via the Web, but it does lack the usabilty you’ve come to expect from a fully native app. Pinch-to-zoom is fine ‘n all, but it’s not the same as using an app that’s been built specifically for the device that’s in your hand, or if it’s been properly mobile optimized.



Still, as a first public iteration, it’s a good start and Movli does provide useful features for filtering through the cacophoous crackle that is the world’s movie library, to unearth something you might just like.


Feature Image Credit – Shutterstock

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