Man in Red Bandana (PG-13)
His grieving parents learned of his actions -- enabled by his volunteer firefighter training -- because survivors recalled the red bandana that he'd carried for luck as an athlete, later in his Wall Street job and ever since his dad had given it to him when Crowther was 6.
Gwyneth Paltrow somberly, painstakingly and bloodlessly narrates the documentary details. The planes' approaches, the pilots' realities, Crowther's mother's discovery of the offhand detail of the bandanna in The New York Times, the gratitude of the survivors who believe they were helped by him that day, and, finally, the charities and tributes inspired by his example. Unsurprisingly, this worthy story has circulated widely, told by President Barack Obama and columnist Peggy Noonan, and in an award-winning 13-minute ESPN story broadcast in 2014.
Based on a book by ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi (who also wrote the script), that TV feature's storytelling is more vivid than this doc attempt in nearly every way -- including its lush camerawork, deft editing and writing, and the uplift and awe in actor Ed Burns' narration. That short-subject treatment serves as a challenge that, in 80 minutes, writer/director Matthew Weiss doesn't meet.