iPad’s Labyrinth

The iPad debate is over. It’s awesome (says us). But finding the right film-centic apps can be a dizzying affair. Here’s some apps of choice…

As an official devotee of the iPad (from which this column is currently being typed), I constantly find myself nosing through pages of new apps that will feed my filmic obsession. To save others hours of scrolling through the (admittedly poorly categorized) Apps Store in search of various cinema-centric applications, I wanted to provide a go-to list for fellow film nerds of apps that will turn you from a casual viewers to a movie junkie with just a few taps of the screen.

IMDB (free)
The exhaustively indexed first stop for film fans, the Internet Movie Database, is spawned from its website, and provides proof as to why apps are often better than the sites from which they originated. Cutting through the clutter, the IMDb app offers all the chunks of information for which you use it, minus the noise and clutter of the homepage.
Features:  fairly complete biographical information on stars and crews, local listings for film and television stills and video clip galleries, reviews (both professional and from commentors), all in a clean, easy-to-browse layout.
Bonus: for those who enjoy the small screen as well, IMDb tackles that as well.; it’s free.

Flixster (free)
Want to know when the latest Adam Sandler epic is playing at the Movies at Midway? Need to know the matinee times this weekend at The Clayton? Heading away for the weekend, but want to check the film listings for the area? Flixster has you covered. Aside from setting “favorite” theaters to keep tabs, Flixster is also the home app for the popular review-aggregate site, Rotten Tomatoes. (Full disclosure: ‘Natsukashi’ is considered a “Flixster Certified” blog, but even if I did not, I would still expound on its awesomeness.)
Features: full access to all reviews featured on Rotten Tomatoes, ability to post your own reviews to share with friends on Facebook; a weekly rundown of upcoming films, current and upcoming DVD releases.
Bonus: connectivity to Netflix, allowing you to immediately queue up movies of interest; a Yelp search engine that allows you find nearby restaurants to make it a dinner-and-a-movie night.

Netflix (Account required)
This one comes preloaded on the iPad, but it’s no mere throwaway app. Sure you need to be a Netflix member, but depending on your film-watching habits, the monthly fee quickly pays for itself as you browse through the streaming possibilities. Netflix adds to its deep archives on an almost daily basis (you can check instantwatchdb.com for the most recent releases). Granted, the newest releases are usually hard to come by on streaming, but their volumes of television series (‘Lost,’ ‘Arrested Development,’ ‘Saturday Night Live‘) will help pass the time.
Features: Immediate streaming of thousands of new and classic films; no waiting; easy management of your streaming and DVD rental queues.
Bonus: streams in brilliant high quality; a simple adapter can project your film’s onto any large-screen tv.

Arthouse Cinema (free)
For lovers of short animated films, this is a nifty little app that can bring you up to speed on some of the up-and-coming directors from around the gold. Many Oscar-nominated shorts are featured.
Features: ability to pause and fast forward with a touch of a finger; display of your viewing history.

Movie Club (free)
If you don’t want to spring for a Netflix account, or at least take the iPad for a test spin when it comes to watching movies, Movie Club is a nice little springboard app. A wide range of  titles (more than 60 at last count), including the Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn classic ‘Charade,’ and a handful of lesser-known fare (Todd Bridges’ epic ‘I Got Five on That,’ anyone?)
Features: the same setup and execution as Arthouse Cinema app, since it’s from the same makers.

EW Must List (free)
Those who subscribe to ‘Entertainment Weekly’ are no doubt already aware of the ‘Must List,’ which provides viewers with what the magazine’s staff considers to be the best of the week, from all areas of entertainment. But using your iPad, it takes it several steps further.
Features: links for every items mentioned (for example, if it’s a podcast featured, you can hear the latest episode, go to the home page, or be led to its iTunes page to subscribe); links to the ‘Entertainment Weekly’ home site for the latest news and reviews; links to the latest in film, television, theater, and gaming.
Bonus: the ability to personalize and create your own ‘Must List.’

Pulse (free)
This one is not specific to film, but you can certainly personalize it to be. In a clean layout, Pulse allows you to receive feeds from all the film sites you may frequent and place them in a one centralized hub.
Features: with up to five pages, and 12 feeds per page, you can store a ton of info to browse through; easy setup and navigation
Bonus: a chance to share any story quickly with friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Film Study (free)
If you like classic cinema, Film Study provides an easy way to access what is available to you for free. From comedy to film noir, there’s a good chance you can waste many an hour catching up on classics now in public domain. Some film quality may be questionable, but you can’t beat the price.
Features: compiles all films that can be found online that are now legally free to watch and categorizes them in various areas, with a heavy emphasis on early cinema (Charlie Chaplin, East End Kids).
Bonus: ability to create and save your own list of favorite films in a local folder.

Snag Films (free)
If you love a good documentary, look no further than this app, which streams dozens of some of the latest available, from “Super Size Me,” to the fascinating “High on Crack Street,” featured in the Oscar-nominated “The Fighter.”
Features: titles are broken down into ” topics,” including: art and culture, lifestyles and biographies, politics and culture.
Bonus: like Film School, you can create your own personalized “queue” of films you wish to view.

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