iSGTW Feature - For the love of movies: recommendations from the grid

Feature - For the love of movies: recommendations from the grid

Cary Grant in "North by Northwest." Image courtesy of MGM

Alfred Hitchcock once said, "A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."

Tired of wasting your time sifting through DVDs at the rental store only to end up with a mediocre film? Help is on the horizon for all interested in movie recommendations.

In a one-man project, Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, offers grid-powered film recommendations through a simple algorithm, his Web portal and EELA-2, the E-science grid facility for Europe and Latin America. "This is a very simple application," he said. "It's not going to cure cancer, but it does show that average people can use the grid."

Marilyn Monroe gets fitted for a scene with the help of Hollywood costume designer William Travilla, who custom-made Monroe's outfits for eight of her films. Image courtesy of The Travilla Tour

Custom-tailored suggestions

To find a good rental, a movie buff would visit Ciuffo's Web page "Cinefilia," create a user profile and evaluate 20 movies. The tool looks at the user's tastes, and makes recommendations of its own, using a classic algorithm known as "collaborative filtering" in which a new user's profile is compared with all other users in the system, similar to the tool that Amazon uses to recommend books. (Or that Jester, a site from the University of California at Berkeley, uses to recommend jokes.)

Ciuffo, an application manager for EELA-2 working at INFN, Catania, Italy, enjoys a good flick like everyone but began developing Cinefilia for the most practical of reasons: "When I started working I didn't know how to port applications to the grid. I decided to take an application I developed during my master's degree and port it. So this is like a toy application for me to learn how to help others."

What was recommended for this writer? The Godfather, Cinema Paradiso, Se7en and Casablanca.

Ciuffo presented his application at the 4th EGEE User Forum in Catania. See a video of it, filmed on site and prepared by GridTalk.

-Danielle Venton, EGEE