I would like to challenge any film critic or blogger who strongly disagrees with me about the excellence of In the Valley of Elah (particularly in the snobby-ass, Paul Haggis-hating, nyah-nyah manner in which Slant‘s Ed Gonzalez has recently expressed himself) to a bare-knuckles, John L. Sullivan-styled fist fight. I really and truly would be willing to bleed and get bruised and maybe knocked down over this. I know what I know and right is right, and I for one would be willing to stand up and go to the mat to defend my cinematic principles.
If I wasn’t such a wuss, I mean. Saying I’d “like” to challenge an Elah hater to a fist fight doesn’t mean I’m actually doing that. My knuckles would get all swollen and I wouldn’t be able to type for a few days, and then where would I be? I haven’t been in a fight since the seventh grade.
But I theoretically support the idea of settling movie debates this way. There is no right or wrong opinion about anything, of course, but God would “render the decision” on Elah, so to speak, because God always decides who wins all fist fights. If I were to get whupped by Gonzalez or whomever, then perhaps I’d be wrong about Elah (or more wrong than right) and that would be that. I would abide by God’s law, I suppose, by agreeing to shut up about it, and Gonzalez would have to do the same.
All serious writers should be willing to duke it out over their opinions, I feel. Not in some low-rent Uwe Boll way but in an elegant, old-school Ernest Hemingway fashion. Scott Foundas can do what he wants, but he should be willing to put on boxing trunks and gloves and meet a Brett Ratner hater in the ring. Stephanie Zacharek should be willing to do the same over one of her strongly held views. I for one would love to see Jonathan Rosenbaum or Shawn Levy or A.O. Scott in the ring. Who would beat who in a match?
Call it the Movie Fight Club. Meet down in some industrial warehouse in Long Beach, or out on Long Island somewhere. Rule #1: You don’t talk about Movie Fight Club. Rule #2: You don’t talk about Movie Fight Club.
Fighting is brutish and beyond pathetic, of course, but there’s something I like about it regardless. Something about surrendering the rightness and wrongness of your cause and convictions to a rudimentary hand of fate.