By Joshua Rich
Updated January 23, 2009 at 06:00 AM EST

Here I was today, wallowing in discontentment over what may be the most vanilla/predictable crop of Oscar nominees ever, all while continuing to lament the fact that the Sundance Film Festival has apparently lost most of the buzzmaking mojo it once boasted to excess…when I saw the headlines. Fisticuffs in Park City! Yowza. According to several reports, things got down and dirty yesterday after a Sundance screening of a documentary called, appropriately enough, Dirt (pictured). Seems a veteran movie critic took aim at a veteran publicist in a dispute revolving around the quality of the film. (The reviewer was Variety‘s John Anderson; the movie’s rep was Jeff Dowd — a.k.a. the inspiration for the Dude from The Big Lebowski. Seriously.) No charges were filed and everyone went their separate ways, and the indie-movie blogosphere lit up like the big screen at Eccles.

Now, I don’t condone violence, of course, but, man, I love this. Certainly, there’s a cathartic element to the whole episode; you have to imagine that movie critics everywhere, beaten down by persistent pronouncements of their profession’s demise, took some comfort in knowing that one of their own literally and figuratively fought back. Dowd, on the other hand, may not get the positive review he was seeking for Dirt, but the PR value here is priceless. For me, well, I’m just glad to know that people still care. Movies, after all, are worth fighting over. But sometime recently — maybe it was when Harvey Weinstein started his quiet slink out of the spotlight, maybe it was when I realized that the edgiest film to come out in 2008 was, like, Valkyrie — I started to doubt whether we’ve run out of movies worth making hay about or would-be pugilists at the multiplex. I’m glad to know that neither is the case.

But that’s just me. Agree? Disagree? What’s your take?

For all (pacifist-friendly) news from Sundance, check out’s Sundance coverage.