My biggest problem with Netflix is that the company just isn’t that into movies. I first noticed this when watching Continental Divide via Instant Watch. I liked this film a lot when I was younger, so I know it well. As I watched it, I was shocked to see that it had been cut—with lots of dialog replacement. But there was no disclaimer at the beginning of it. They just grabbed some TV station’s copy and streamed it. I complained to Netflix’s (and I mean this sincerely) fantastic telephone support people. But of course, nothing changed.
I had another experience like this recently. I watched Amadeus on Netflix Instant Watch. Without stating so, the movie that was streamed was not the original but rather the longer director’s cut. I don’t have a problem with this. I quite like the director’s cut; I think it is better than the original release. But there is no doubt that that the original release is a different film than the director’s cut. To see just how far this went, I ordered the DVD and sure enough, it was the original release. If Netflix really cared about movies—the way a real fan does—they would offer both the director’s cut and the original release. Instead, it is just catch as catch can, as though there were no difference between these films.
What all this means is that to Netflix movies are just commodities. Things that film lovers care greatly about do not even register in the Netflix universe. This goes along with the fact that Netflix often offers inferior versions of films. Until recently, they only offered the worst version of Mr. Arkadin, although I see now that they are offering all three, but the description of each is the same, so there is no way for the interested viewer to determine which version to get based upon Netflix’s information. (But I have you covered: get The Comprehensive Version.) They don’t even offer Chimes at Midnight or other great, but rare films.
At the top of my queue right now is the first disc of The Muppet Show. For stuff like this, Netflix is great. But for anything else, it is wanting.