If you’ve ever finished watching a movie and wished you had something similar lined up next, but aren’t exactly sure what that is, there’s a website that can help. It’s called Cinetrii, and it does more than your average “what to watch next” feature on streaming services. We found it, like many of our favourite things, via the Recomendo newsletter. Here’s what Cinetrii does and how it works.
What does Cinetrii do?
The recommendations from streaming services regarding what they think you might like to watch next can be, to put it mildly, hit or miss. For example, Amazon Prime Video displays a list under a movie or TV show letting you know what customers who watched that item also watched. This can be especially helpful if you’re into obscure cult documentaries and want to find some more. And then, there are the recommendations from Netflix. If, for example, you just finished Legally Blonde, Netflix may create a category for you featuring movies with strong, blonde female leads, with the first selection being Sophie’s Choice.
But that’s not how Cinetrii — which is more focused on influences and inspirations for films — works. According to the Cinetrii website, it is “aimed at film enthusiasts who want to understand the context of the films that they love.” But how does it work? Here’s some insight on their methodology, per Cenetrii:
Directors and screenwriters might take inspiration from works that have come before — Cinetrii tries to trace this lineage. The algorithm analyses written reviews by film critics, seeks out references to other works and tries to rank the connections on relevance. Critics have a tendency to infer possible inspirations to a film. They will reference other works, namedrop directors, compare and contrast. Using large-scale text analysis it is possible to crowdsource knowledge from lifetimes of cinematic experience and art appreciation, while also giving credit to the reviewers.
No weight is given to mainstream blockbuster movies, which, Centrii points out, rarely receive critical reviews involving identifying their influences (unless it’s some sort of film franchise).
Think of Cinetrii as a much less annoying version of your college boyfriend who constantly told everyone he was “really into film” and took pride in issuing recommendations that invariably included The Clockwork Orange, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and, of course, Citizen Kane.
How to use Cinetrii
With a very minimalist homepage, Cinetrii makes the search process pretty straightforward. Just type a movie you like into the search bar, and wait for the magic to happen. The first thing to pop up will be a diagram of movies that came out both before and after the film you entered, that have similar influences and inspirations. You can also filter the results to show only the films that came out before or after the one you like.
To test it out, I entered The Sound of Music:
This is the first of three pages of results featuring movies that came out both before and after the 1965 Julie Andrews classic. When you click on one of the other movies, text will pop up identifying the film, as well as the blurb from a review that made the connection.
The results represent an interesting assortment of genres. Unsurprisginlry, other studio-system-era musicals like State Fair, Oklahoma and South Pacific are listed, along with modern film musicals, like Chicago, Frozen and Moulin Rouge. And then there are the films with less-obvious connections to The Sound of Music. These include Source Code, The Pacifier (with Vin Diesel), The Postman (with Kevin Costner) and Inglorious Basterds. Clicking on each selection will explain their inclusion.
In case you’re curious, The Postman and The Pacifier are both there because they include The Sound of Music as part of the plot. Source Code is there because of its opening scene (which a critic compared to the opening of The Sound of Music), and Inglorious Basterds obviously has the Nazi connection, as well as a review comparing Christoph Waltz’s performance to Christopher Plummer’s in The Sound of Music.