A Friendly Nod to a Guy I've Never Met
When you're a critic in a town (all right, a city; all right, a metropolis), you often know other critics, especially those you admire. That said, I have never met V. A. Musetto. I don't know anything about him except that I read somewhere that he's the film editor of the New York Post. I have no clue as to what "V." stands for, let alone "A."
But I like his writintg, and more to the point his quirky sensibility, by itself and within the incongruous context in which he works. Every few days (maybe it's weekly, but I haven't checked) he's given a little column called Cine File in which he waxes enthusiastic about movies he likes. They are almost always obscure.
The latest column is about Romanian films, pegged to a Film Society of Lincoln Center festival of same. Actually, this is as close to mainstream as Musetto gets, since a lot of people have taken note of late about good films from that country, most notably "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."
Usually Musetto is waxing on about the outer fringes of American indie films or Korean films or South American films or Alaskan dog-sled films (I made that up, but there are certainly some of them and Musetto surely knows them all). There are other critics in New York alone who because of their tastes or because they've been marginalized by their publications dwell in the twilight zone of film. One thinks of Dave Kehr and his always richly informed, passionate column about DVD's in the Times, or J Hoberman about anything in the Village Voice (amazing that he hasn't been fired, yet).
What's so pleasing about Musetto is that he plies his obscurantist trade in the pages of the Post, which normally deals on a -- how to put this? -- more earthily populist level. Maybe he has the goods on Rupert Murdoch's sexual quirks, and can write what he writes with the threat of blackmail forever hanging on high. Maybe the Post doesn't much care about "wasting" a tiny amount of space on a film nut's favorites. Whatever: He's fun to read, and he's the kind of critic who keeps the shaky institution of the newspaper movie critic still very much alive.
For an ongoing conversation and news reports about arts journalism, go to the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program, here.