Cinemania. (film-reference CD-ROM) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English
I love movies. In fact, I eagerly rush out each year and buy the updated edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide. (Film Comment magazine called it the "best reference book of the decade.") Imagine my delight when I discovered that Microsoft's new film-reference CD-ROM includes all 19,000 capsule reviews and ratings from the 1992 version of Maltin's film guide. As if that weren't enough, it includes thousands of entries from the Motion Picture Guide and The Encyclopedia of Film, both from Baseline, an information service for the entertainment industry. This CD-ROM for people crazy about movies is called Cinemania (Microsoft, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052; 800-426-9400; $79.95).
So why not just buy the Maltin book? You should--you wouldn't want to have to boot up your computer every time you need to look up a movie. But you should also buy Cinemania for its unique search capability. For example, if you wanted to find all the four-star movies, directed by John Ford, from 1945 to 1955, that starred both Henry Fonda and Ward Bond, there's no better or faster way to come up with the information. Choose the appropriate search filters and you'll come up with My Darling Clementine (1946) and Mister Roberts (1955). Double-click on either title and you'll go right to the capsule review.
I recently saw Peter Greenaway's Drowning by Numbers, was impressed, and wanted to see what else he has done. A quick search on the word Greenaway brought up a window with twelve topics, including capsule reviews of his six feature-length films, his filmography, a short biography, an extended review and production credits for his most recent film, and several occurrences of his name in articles about people he's worked with.
With just a thread of information, you can piece together a whole tapestry of film knowledge. Track down movies you barely remember. See what other movies your favorite actor or actress has made. Pick your favorite genre and print out a list of all the four-star movies that were nominated for or won awards.
Along with this industrial-strength film database, Microsoft has added a number of strong multimedia elements. There's a generous selection of black-and-white and color movie stills and a smaller, but well-chosen, selection of audio clips from major motion pictures, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Big Sleep, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. In a clever conceit, you control the various modules of the program with a simulated remote control.
Cinemania is suitable for both the casual moviegoer and the dedicated cinema lover. It's the best thing to happen to movies since the VCR.