I was amused at how chief N.Y. Times critics Tony Scott and Manohla Dargis gave the task of reviewing Chris Smith‘s Collapse (which opens today in Manhattan) not to second-stringer Stephen Holden but third-stringer Jeanette Catsoulis. It’s only the scariest and most riveting doc of the year — a theoretical portrait of the world’s end that will suck the air out of whatever room you happen to be sitting in. (Last week I called it “the thinking man’s 2012“).

Catsoulis is, of course, an excellent writer. But woe to the film looking for full-out Times consideration that gets reviewed by her, however smartly or perceptively. A Catsoulis review is a kiss of death. A black spot handed to a film distributor by Ben Gun or Long John Silver. By giving Collapse to Catsoulis, Scott-Dargis have essentially said to Times readers, “This is a fringe doc…an in-and-outer that mainstream audiences should perhaps ignore…not fully deserving of our attention.” In other words they read it wrong.