Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leonard Maltin News

My daughter is taking Leonard Maltin's class at the University of Southern California this semester, and he recently announced to the class that his annual MOVIE GUIDE is now an "app."

Needless to say, as a new iTouch owner I was intrigued. I downloaded it last weekend; the cost is $3.99. Along with the MOVIE GUIDE itself, there is a "Current Picks" section with Maltin's reviews of new movies from his website.

I have been very impressed with this app. The movie entries in the guide have links to Netflix and iTunes at the top of the page, making it easy to add a title to a Netflix queue or order a download.

Many of the films have a poster or DVD artwork along with the rating and review, as well as a link for the trailer. I watched the trailer for my favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, and was impressed with the quality of the widescreen print.

Cast members' names can be clicked for ideas for other titles. At the bottom of the screen are links to the movie's IMDb and Amazon pages.

By clicking a symbol on a movie's entry, the title can be added to a list of "Movies to See." The app also maintains a "Film Lookup History" so you can easily return to recent searches.

In short, this is an app which provides not simply a handy pocket version of Maltin's great reference book, but it includes a number of useful interactive features. It's a "must" for classic film fans, along with the TCM and IMDb apps.

In other Maltin news, the second edition of LEONARD MALTIN'S CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE, which was originally due to be published this spring, had its publication date moved up to today. This book has many pre-1965 titles which are not included in Maltin's annual MOVIE GUIDE.

Leonard Maltin's 151 BEST MOVIES YOU'VE NEVER SEEN, which I wrote about earlier this month, is due on shelves February 9th.

February 5th Update: Here is a review of the 2nd Edition of Maltin's CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE.


Blogger mel said...

Sorry to sound ignorant, Laura - but please explain what an "app" is.

Is it new terminology for a "book"? As in "books - ah, yes... I remember them..."

Living as I do thousands of miles away from the USA it sometimes takes a while for new English terms to reach us...

9:12 PM  
Blogger Ed South said...

I think taking a class with Leonard Maltin as the instructor would be just about the coolest thing ever!

9:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mel, you're not ignorant a bit -- "app" is a term I've only been familiar with myself for the last month or two, and I suspect I'm behind the curve on that.

It's short for "application," which is a fancy way of saying a mini-computer program or special website made to function on small handheld devices like the iPhone and iTouch (the latter is basically an iPhone without the phone). Many apps can be downloaded for free, for instance IMDb is a free app. It's different from going to the actual IMDb website in that it's designed to be particularly easy to read and use on the handheld device.

There are gazillions of apps available at iTunes, for everything imaginable: games, weather forecasts, reference works, recipes, etc. I even have a "flashlight" app which turns my screen into a light bright enough to see by.

I also have a Kindle app which is a free version of Amazon's electronic reader; many classic books are available for free.

Hope this helps -- I'm sure the slang will be migrating your way soon!

Best wishes,

9:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm rather jealous of her, Ed! Although we did at least get to meet Mr. Maltin last year when we attended a John Wayne weekend on campus. We made sure to tell him how much we love the Disney Treasures DVDs, and we told him we'd love more SPIN & MARTY and also Jiminy Cricket "I'm No Fool" cartoons. :)

In this class he usually screens films which aren't yet in theaters, but last week he had director Jason Reitman screen UP IN THE AIR.

USC has an amazing lineup of professors for critical studies in film, with Maltin, Rick Jewell, and Drew Casper.

Hope you are doing well!!

Best wishes,

9:47 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Does the app actually download that information directly to the itouch or does the iTouch access it all through the internet (do you pay a monthly service fee?) - and can you download or play movies on it? I am just curious- I don't have one but I have thought about it and would like to know your thoughts.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I am sold! Especially since it has that Netflix connection.

Does it have a good search function?

7:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi J.C.,

Many apps download info directly to the iTouch, while other things require a wireless Internet connection. For instance, I can access Maltin's entries whether or not I have an Internet connection. (Incidentally, the iTouch MOVIE GUIDE appears to include titles from his CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE as well as the annual MOVIE GUIDE...this morning I was able to look up entries for two June Haver films which I checked and found were not in the annual MOVIE GUIDE. Yay!)

There is no monthly fee for the only access the Internet through wi-fi. I can use the Internet in my home because our computers are connected by wireless networking. Wi-fi is also increasingly available in public places (bookstores, malls, Starbucks, etc.).

Incidentally, if I need to access the Internet without wi-fi, I use my Palm Centro, which has a much lower monthly cost. The Internet interface may not be as "pretty" on the Centro, but I found the monthly cost of an iPhone (or a Palm Pre) to be prohibitive.

A big "yes" to being able to download and play movies on the iTouch. In fact, you can turn the iTouch sideways for a larger widescreen picture. Like the Kindle book app, it's not something I would use a great deal, but it's a nice feature which is handy for being "on the go" if you're traveling light -- for instance you could get on an airplane and have books, movies, and music all stored in one device.

You can read more about it here.

Best wishes,

8:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquelle!

Yes, it has a nice big onscreen keyboard that pops up...the one weird thing is that sometimes when I search a title I get a message that the title wasn't found. But then if I click a "title" button on the screen, the entry is always there. Not sure why it doesn't always just immediately pop up, but since I found that "work-around" I've never had a title I couldn't find.

I just tested it by looking up SHE MARRIED HER BOSS and got that message the title couldn't be found, clicked "title," and got the review.

One caveat which I just discovered: the iTouch entry on SHE MARRIED HER BOSS is one line shorter than the entry in the hard copy CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE. :( On a cheerful note, that's another title which is not in the annual MOVIE GUIDE, so it's nice to have the best of both worlds and apparently have the information from both books in this app.

Let me know what you think. As you can tell, I'm still exploring it in greater detail. :)

Best wishes,

8:47 AM  
Blogger KC said...

This sounds great! Thanks for sharing the info.

9:05 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

What size Gig do you have Laura, and is it adaquate for your usage? I would love to have something like this - especially to store my old time radio shows and other fun stuff- and the Maltin app sounds awesome. Is it strictly wireless or can you use a usb also?
Thanks for your informed review- maybe you should've done a post - the portable tech for the Classic film fan!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're welcome, KC!

I have the 32 gig, J.C. It's more than adequate -- the 8 gig might have been OK too, especially as I can also store/listen to music on my iPod Nano, but I wanted to be sure I'd have lots of room and not be wishing to upgrade any time soon. :)

No USB port -- just wireless.

I've got a lot of radio, too -- last year I bought several CDs with Lux Radio Theater shows on eBay. (Some are also available for download online, but the CDs were an inexpensive way for me to get a few hundred shows all at once, grin.) I enjoy having some radio shows in my iPod Nano or iTouch for travel or my daily walks. For instance, when we flew to London last year I listened to shows like SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (there's that title again!) with George Brent and Ginger Rogers, and THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET with Loretta Young and Brian Aherne. The "alternate castings" in many Lux shows are fascinating!

Thanks for your kind words. I'm not sure I was ready to do a post earlier on as learning about the iTouch features and apps has been a gradual process over the last few weeks. :)

BTW, some reviewers are calling the newly announced iPod Pad a "large print iTouch," LOL. I guess it's supposed to compete with Amazon's full-sized Kindle device (for those not yet up to speed, you can either buy a Kindle device from Amazon, *or* download a free Kindle program from Amazon to the iTouch or iPhone) -- but if I wanted a screen as large as the iPad, maybe I'd just get a laptop!

Best wishes,

9:54 AM  
Blogger mel said...


Laura, just in case you don't yet know about Leonard Maltin's new YouTube channel, take a look:

1:47 AM  

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