Is it time to “pause” Netflix?

Everybody has their own threshold of tolerance of or enthusiasm for the dominant streaming service.

If you’re hooked on series, love the online version of water-cooler conversation about “Stranger Things,” “Squid Games,” earlier break-out “Ozark” and the like, you’re probably getting enough out of Netflix.

But if you’re a Taika Waititi fan, you can’t help but notice his series are on Hulu or HBO Max. “Handmaid’s Tale” and a lot of other content is over on Amazon.

And don’t get me started on Disney+ and its Marvel/”Star Wars” content stranglehold.

For me and I dare say a lot of critics, even the hottest series are a time investment whose limited shelf-life — Who reads reviews of a series a month after it’s come out? Six months? Six years? — isn’t worth it.

When I do review such series, I’m consistently out of step with the popular sentiment and TV critic reviews of such shows. Either I’m watching deeper into the series before filing or I have different standards for what I expect out of a “WandaVision” or “The Great” or “Mosquito Coast” or even that damned Baby Yoda thing.

The storytelling style is obvious and annoying, a simple tale padded out for time and cliff-hanging suspense. I simply prefer the more compact, brisk storytelling of movies, which are more like novels and plays. TeeVee seems more soap opera/comic-bookish in terms of The Never-Ending Narrative. Everything is designed to bring the viewer back, to postpone or never-actually-deliver real endings.

You end your show, it’s a “failure,” seems to be the thinking.

And anyway, preferring movies is how I keep running into the wall with Netflix. They’re not making enough or buying enough that haven’t been shown elsewhere to make the streamer worth my trouble.

I looked ahead and saw that Netflix has the Sony production “The Man from Toronto,” with Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, an action comedy about a hit-man, the Ryan Gosling Russo Brothers (ugh) actioner “The Gray Man,” and Dakota Johnson’s take on Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.”

That’s it. So I got an early look at “Toronto,” and maybe I’ll renew if “The Gray Man” becomes the first ever Netflix action picture to truly pay off. I liked “Spiderhead,” but every other actioner starring Hemsworth or Theron, Pena or whoever, has been kind of “write these action guys a check and hope for the best” bust.

Dakota Johnson doing Jane Austen! The mind reels.

A LOT of Netflix movies suffer from that “blank check to Hollywood” filmmaking. They’ve been spending money with little genuine “studio” supervision by people who know what makes a good movie. Every studio start-up goes through this.

Another problem is the algorithm that determines what Netflix offers for your viewing pleasure. You watch one Indonesian or South African or Indian or Peruvian movie, because it’s guaranteed to be something neither you nor many others have reviewed, and that’s what they fill your feed with.

One has to dig and dig and dig to find content outside of what they “think” you want. Not just just a film critic problem, but it is what it is. Netflix is always time consuming to browse because it’s trying to outguess you. Ask anybody.

So I’ll take a break, pay more attention to Apple TV, Amazon, Hulu, the major studios and the minor distributors, and see how long it takes for me to miss Netflix again.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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