Noah Baumbach’s disaster film for Our Moment: The Week in Reporter Reads

This weekend, listen to a collection of New York Times-related articles read by the reporters who wrote them.

Written and narrated by Jon Mooallem

Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise is narrated by Jack Gladney, director of the Hitler Studies department at a small Midwestern college and the founder of Hitler Studies as an academic discipline. Life is messed up but good – good enough that Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, don’t want it to end. They both fear death, each secretly tormented by the same knowledge of mortality that everyone else seems to effortlessly suppress. They also want to suppress it. “Let’s enjoy these aimless days while we can, I said to myself, for fear of some kind of clever acceleration,” Jack says at the beginning of the book. But then the novel’s dead absurdity balloons into deadly danger: a train derails and spews a cloud of toxic chemicals outside of town, in what authorities call an “airborne toxic event.”

The novel is many things: a moving meditation on middle age and family life; a crooked shipment of science; a cheesy disaster film; a tinny, absurd satire of a world swollen even in 1985 with consumerism and mass media, confusing signifiers and unmanageable facts.

As the world shut down in 2020, director Noah Baumbach found solace in Don DeLillo’s supposedly unadaptable novel — and turned it into a film that speaks to our deepest fears.

Written and narrated by Nicole Sperling

Turning She Said, the book about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s abuse, into a movie wasn’t easy.

Shot in 2021, four years after New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s bombshell article sent shockwaves through Hollywood, the film aims to tell the backstory of their investigation in a way that also honors and respects their subjects. Many of them would have to relive the trauma that originally put them in the spotlight.

Despite the filmmakers’ best intentions, these women inevitably experienced waves of extreme emotion during the process. To minimize their distress, the filmmakers established a few ground rules: no naked women, no depictions of assault, very little Weinstein. “We didn’t even have to discuss it,” said the film’s director Maria Schrader (“Unorthodox”). “I don’t need to add another rape scene to the world.”

Additionally, the filmmakers turned the pre-production process into an open collaboration, inviting many of those involved in reporting, including Weinstein victims, to help shape their portrayals.

Written by Jeffrey Gettleman and Oleksandra Mykolyshyn | Narrated by Jeffrey Gettleman

Before war was at his door, Anton Filatov, a Ukrainian film critic, said the most dangerous thing he ever carried was a fork. “I had never touched a gun,” he said. “I was against war. I ran as far away as I could.”

But like so many other Ukrainians, he was hit by the fighting and his life became a real war movie. He serves on the front lines of Ukraine’s war against Russian invaders, in one of the most contested, blood-soaked territories, trapped in a setting he could never have imagined.

Despite the squinting horrors and daily drudgery of being a soldier, he has not given up writing. On the contrary: the war in Ukraine has become his new stuff as he dives into the fear, sadness, anger and anxiety he experiences and tries to find meaning in the smallest of things around him, like the mice that flit over him while he sleeps.

In a recent text message he wrote:

Once, during one of the heavy attacks, I sat in a shelter and watched the ground shake. Chopped pine roots sticking out of the wall of our shelter. The sap of the tree flowed out of them. It shone like mercury and resembled tears. A few months later I don’t remember how many explosions there were that night or what guns were fired. But I remember one picture clearly: the earth weeping with heavy, cold tears.

Written and narrated by Anemona Hartocollis

“It wasn’t until shortly after my husband Josh passed away in the summer of 2021,” writes Anemona Hartocollis, a National Desk correspondent, “that I learned that his oncologist, Dr. Gabriel Sara starred in a film opposite legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve.”

Anemona said the film helped her see her life more fully: “Seeing my husband’s doctor on screen didn’t turn out to be a repeat or ointment. You can’t get over death. But I was reminded of what we saw in Dr. Sarah had.”

Written and narrated by Eric Kim

Eric Kim always viewed the filling as a blank canvas, the best opportunity to express yourself in an otherwise regimented Thanksgiving menu. But feedback from a pizza-inspired recipe he made last year made him wonder: Are there rules for filling? Is there a platonic ideal?

Seeking answers, Eric cooked and sampled 20 filling recipes: 18 popular staples from the New York Times Cooking archives, plus some of the most popular packaged mixes in the United States. He had one simple goal in mind: to determine which ingredients in the dish are most important for buttery-smooth, high-carb dynamics.

Times annotated articles are by Tally Abecassis, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Aaron Esposito, Dan Farrell, Elena Hecht, Adrienne Hurst, Emma Kehlbeck, Tanya Pérez, Krish Seenivasan, Kate Winslett, John Woo and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.


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