During an appearance on "The Charlie Rose Show" a few weeks back, "Cold Mountain" director Anthony Minghella was asked if he had taken any steps when making the film -- about an injured Southern soldier (Jude Law) in the Civil War who deserts the army, traveling on foot in search of his home and his desperate true love, Ada (Nicole Kidman) -- to evoke "what is happening to us today, as a nation in Iraq: consequences that were unforeseen, staying longer than we anticipated, families torn apart."
Oh yes, said Minghella. "We really worked very hard on that together towards the end of the film -- of making sure we'd got that properly articulated ... We just tried to be sure that ... the film's resonance with the present was clear. I don't think it's interesting to make a history film, which is like a tribute to the Smithsonian. It's only important if it tells us something about the way we live now, and the problems we have now."
"Yeah," Kidman chimed in. "It's interesting how the letters came about ... Ada's letters."
Kidman is referring to letters her character writes to Inman, the soldier played by Law, letters that don't play much of a role in the book by Charles Frazier on which the film is based. Curious about how Minghella, who also wrote the film's script, might have shoehorned secret messages about Saddam, Iraq, WMD and Halliburton into a tale of the Civil War South, the Fix dodged the bayonets and canon fire to take a close look at Ada's scribblings, skimming the book, the original script and sitting through the nearly three-hour epic at a nearby cineplex.
Ultimately, we can only imagine that Minghella and Kidman were referring to this passage from one of Ada's letters as having some currency with our time: "This war is lost on the battlefield, and it's being lost twice over by those who stayed behind," and continues, "My last thread of courage now is to put my faith in you and now I say to you, as plain as I can, if you are fighting, stop fighting. If you are marching, stop marching. Come back to me. Come back to me is my request." Alas, we were anticipating something a little more ... explicitly topical. Maybe if we play the movie backwards?
-- Reported by Christopher Farah
Sopranos writer sings: David Chase spills a few beans about the upcoming season of "The Sopranos," says mobsters fresh out of jail and a Soprano cousin played by Steve Buscemi to figure in big. (Washington Post)
If life gives you lemons ...: Complaints surface that Donald Trump gave female contestants an unfair advantage in the first episode of "The Apprentice," his reality TV show in which eight women and eight men compete to work for him. (USA Today)
No blubbering: Keiko the killer whale given Viking burial in Norway. (Reuters)
Reality politics: "War Room" producer R. J. Cutler set to bring the world a reality TV show in which viewers pick the perfect presidential candidate on Showtime. (N.Y. Times)
Gay cruising, redefined: Rosie O'Donnell and her partner, Kelli O'Donnell, team up with Norwegian Cruise Line to launch "gay cruise with family values," in which vacationers can sun themselves on the poop deck one minute and attend "discussion groups on adoption, insemination [and] surrogacy" the next. (Yahoo)
Feather boas and mortarboards? Jesse Ventura is headed to Harvard's Institute of Politics to become a visiting fellow next semester. (Associated Press)
And speaking of politicians who like to tart themselves up from time to time: Florida Republican Katherine Harris is said to be mulling a run for the U.S. Senate. (Drudge)
Bruce Willis on certain rumors about him and Britney Spears: "There are all kinds of rumors about Britney Spears and me. That she's gonna be in 'Die Hard IV.' I'm the only one I know of who's gonna be in 'Die Hard IV.' And I heard that she's buying a house from me in Sun Valley, Idaho. Not true." (N.Y. Post)