Noah Baumbach’s Disaster Movie for Our Moment: The Week in Reporter Reads

Five articles from around The Times, narrated just for you.

Credit...Sharif Hamza for The New York Times

This weekend, listen to a collection of articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.


Written and narrated by Jon Mooallem

How Noah Baumbach Made ‘White Noise’ a Disaster Movie for Our Moment

Don DeLillo’s novel “White Noise” is narrated by Jack Gladney, the head of the Hitler studies department at a small Midwestern college and the originator of Hitler studies as an academic discipline. Life is discombobulated but good — good enough that Jack and his fourth wife, Babette, don’t want it to end. They’re both afraid to die, each privately tormented by the same knowledge of mortality that everyone else seems to walk around effortlessly suppressing. They want to suppress it, too. “Let’s enjoy these aimless days while we can, I told myself, fearing some kind of deft acceleration,” Jack says, early in the book. But then the deadpan absurdity of the novel inflates into mortal danger: A train derails and disgorges a cloud of toxic chemicals outside of town, what authorities label an “airborne toxic event.”

The novel is a lot of things: an affecting meditation on middle age and family life; a wry sendup of academia; a campy disaster movie; a brassy, preposterous satire of a world that, even by 1985, felt swollen with consumerism and mass media, disorienting signifiers and unmanageable facts.

When the world shut down in 2020, the 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

Image
Credit...Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

‘She Said’ Filmmakers and Weinstein Victims: An Emotional Collaboration

There was nothing simple about turning “She Said,” the book about the abuses committed by the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, into a film.

Shot in 2021, four years after the bombshell article by the New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey sent shock waves through Hollywood, the film aims to tell the back story of their investigation in a way that would also honor and respect their subjects, many of whom would be required, yet again, to relive the trauma that initially brought them into the spotlight.

Despite the filmmakers’ best intentions, those women inevitably found themselves experiencing waves of extreme emotions during the process. To minimize their distress, the filmmakers established some initial ground rules: no naked women, no depiction of assault, very little Weinstein. “We didn’t even have to debate it,” said the film’s director, Maria Schrader (“Unorthodox”). “I do not need to add another rape scene to the world.”

Moreover, the filmmakers turned the preproduction process into an open collaboration, inviting many of the people integral to the reporting, including Weinstein victims, to help shape their portrayals.

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

Image
Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Words Were Once His Harshest Weapon. Now He Carries an AK-47.

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

But as with so many other Ukrainians, the fighting found him, and his life has become a real-life war movie. He is serving on the front lines of Ukraine’s war with Russian invaders, in some of the most contested, blood-soaked territory, caught in a theater he never imagined for himself.

Even with the horrors he has to squint to see and the daily grind of being a soldier, he hasn’t given up on his writing. It’s the opposite: Ukraine’s war has become his new material, as he delves into the fear, sorrow, rage and anxiety he is experiencing and tries to find meaning in the smallest things around him, like the mice that scurry over him while he sleeps.

In a recent text message, he wrote:

Once, during one of the heavy attacks, I sat in a dugout and watched the earth tremble. Chopped pine roots stuck out from the wall of our shelter. The sap of the tree flowed out of them. It shined like mercury and resembled tears. A few months later, I don’t remember how many explosions there were that evening or what weapons had been fired. But I clearly remember one image: how the earth wept with heavy, cold tears.

Written and narrated by Anemona Hartocollis

Image
Credit...Les Films du Kiosque

Cancer, My Husband’s Doctor, and Catherine Deneuve

“It was not until shortly after my husband, Josh, died in the summer of 2021,” writes Anemona Hartocollis, a correspondent for the National desk, “that I learned his oncologist, Dr. Gabriel Sara, was starring in a film opposite the legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve.”

Anemona said the film helped her see their lives more fully: “Watching my husband’s doctor onscreen didn’t turn out to be a do-over, or a salve. You don’t get to do-over death. But I was reminded of what we had in Dr. Sara.”

Written and narrated by Eric Kim

Image
Credit...Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food stylist: Barrett Washburne.

I Cooked 20 Thanksgiving Stuffings to Create the Ultimate Recipe

Eric Kim always considered stuffing to be a blank canvas, the greatest opportunity to express himself in an otherwise regimented Thanksgiving menu. But the feedback from a pizza-inspired recipe he made last year led him to wonder: Are there rules to stuffing? Is there a platonic ideal?

In search of answers, Eric cooked and tasted 20 stuffing recipes: 18 beloved staples from the New York Times Cooking archives, as well as a couple of the most popular packaged mixes in the United States. He had a simple goal in mind: to determine which components of the dish are most essential for buttery, carb-laden dynamism.


The Times’s narrated articles are made 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.