‘9/11/03: A Day in the Life of New York’


Ostensibly a grave reckoning with the way we live now, 9/11/03 is mostly excerpts of a dinner NYU president John Sexton hosted on the titular date, where assorted notables—Salman Rushdie, Robert Morgenthau, Russell Simmons, El Diario publisher Rossana Rosado, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul McHale—discussed the impact of 9-11 on American life. Fareed Zakaria comes across as the most nuanced thinker in the room, although what he says is undermined by weird cutaways to food being served. This event is supplemented by private interviews with the attendees, plus footage shot by 18 camera crews at other times that day. Talking heads include Al Sharpton and Joe Torre (who tells us that he works out at 1 p.m. before night games and mentions that the press is pretty tough on him), a Harlem ballet director, a broker with Douglas Elliman, a manager at Merrill Lynch, and cops in a vice squad. As is the case with many of us, 9-11 serves as an ominous but uninsistent backdrop to their daily lives, and so most of these profiles play like an especially grotesque form of free advertising. It might be instructive to investigate ways that life has changed since 9-11—looking into new security procedures, for instance—but 9/11/03 merely exploits the September 11 tag for unearned gravitas.