Movie Review

Vanderbilt Movie Night

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport continues its outdoor movie night series with a screening of “Ice Age” (Rated PG) tonight and Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. Admission for those who sit in their cars is $40 per carload, $34 for members. Bring lawn chairs and sit outside: admission is $30 per carload, $24 for members. Feel free to bring a blanket and arrive at 7 p.m. to picnic on the lawn. Snacks and ice cream will be available for purchase. Tickets for this fundraising event are available online only at No tickets will be sold at the gate. Questions? Call 854-5579.

In a scene from the film, the Allman Brothers Band pose with Jimmy Carter at a benefit concert for the presidential candidate in 1975. Photo from PJDS

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series kicks off its 26th season on Monday Sept. 14 with an outdoor screening of “Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President” at the Harborfront Park, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson at 7 p.m. This fascinating documentary charts the mostly forgotten story of how Jimmy Carter, a lover of all types of music, forged a tight bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others. Director Mary Wharton assembles a star cast including Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Nelson, Dylan and Bono and fills the soundtrack with Southern rock, gospel, jazz, and classical. Bring seating and a mask. Rain date is Sept. 15. Advance tickets only are $10 at

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Tatyana McFadden of the United States competes in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in 2016. Photo by Matthew Stockman

Reviewed By Jeffrey Sanzel

The new Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix is a poignantly heartfelt and honest look at the Paralympics. But, first and last, is about athletes. They face challenges that are sometimes unfathomable, but their goals and their drive are a tribute to the passion for success and the will of the human spirit. There is no better or more powerful example of turning negatives into positives.

The Paralympic games are populated by a range of differently-able athletes, and they have grown to be the third largest sporting event in the world, drawing thousands of participants from over one hundred countries. Prince Harry, who founded the wounded warrior Invictus Games, observes that you are watching something “you’ve been taught is impossible.”

Focusing on nine athletes from seven different countries, this is an exceptional film.  The documentary alternates between interviews with the athletes, footage of them competing, and archival clips of them throughout their lives. It is some of the latter shots that stay with the viewer as they often trace the athletes from infancy and childhood through the present day, offering a glimpse into their incredible paths.

In addition, three past and present members of the International Paralympic Committee —Andrew Parsons, Sir Philip Craven, and Xavier Gonzalez — give insight into the difficulties and challenges of organization and funding, most notably with the Rio Olympics of 2016.

Throughout, the history of the Paralympics is introduced in short spurts, much through interviews with its founder’s daughter, Eva Loeffler. The seed for the games was sown by Loeffler’s father Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a German-Jewish refugee, who brought his family to England in 1939. Guttmann, a neurosurgeon, began treating soldiers with spinal injuries. Their plight and his work with them inspired him to create a sports competition at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The first, with sixteen participants, was held to coincide with the 1948 Olympics; the second was held in 1952. It was the latter that welcomed the first international competitors, with the addition of Dutch and Israeli veterans.  It was these Stoke Mandeville Games that were the precursor of the first official Paralympic Games, held in Rome in 1960. From then on, the games grew in size and fame. Since 1988, the Paralympics have almost always been held immediately following the Olympics.

Rising Phoenix does not explain in detail the structure of the event nor does it detail the breakdown of categories. (Because of the wide variety of disabilities that Paralympic athletes have, there are actually ten eligible impairment types.) Instead, the creators wisely focus on individual athletes with a variety of backgrounds and challenges.

The title of the film is taken from Bebe Vio, a young Italian athlete who competes in wheelchair fencing. Already a successful competitor, she was struck with meningitis at age eleven which caused the necessity of the amputation of both her arms and legs. But, like the phoenix, she rose again and returned to her passion.  Her moments on camera are some of the most vivid; her drive and enthusiasm are mesmerizing. She is fully present, practically leaping off the screen.

Each narrative is unique but the bond that connects them is the will to play and to play to win.

Tatyana McFadden was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, afflicted with spina bifida, paralyzed from the waist down. The earliest part of her life was in Orphanage Number 13. She had no wheelchair and had to scoot across the floor. In 1993, at age six, she was adopted by an American family. With unflagging parental support, she was encouraged to pursue her athletic passions. She and her family sued for the right to participate in high school sports. The winning of the case ushered in the Sports and Fitness Equity Law.

McFadden has dozens of awards and holds multiple world records — a fact brought in during an interview clip from the Ellen DeGeneres show. At a Winter Paralympics, we see her reunited with her birth mother. (It should be noted, that McFadden is also one of the producers of Rising Phoenix.)

Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock is shown beating the famous and now infamous Oscar Pistorius in the 100 meter. Australian swimmer Ellie Cole lost her leg to cancer at age ten but is one of the top swimmers in this world competition. Matt Stutzman, of the U.S., is an archer born without arms; he tells the story of his adoption and the love of his siblings. Cui Zhe, a Chinese powerlifter, speaks of the improved attitude towards the disabled since the Beijing 2008 Olympics and subsequent Paralympics.

Because of a wealth of pictures and family video, we get a real portrait into the arc of Australian Ryley Batt’s journey. Born missing both legs and several fingers, it was the love of his grandfather and the man’s belief in him that gave him the support that he needed. A fierce player and a self-described adrenaline junkie, he had many highs and lows but has risen through the ranks of wheelchair rugby — appropriately nicknamed “murderball.”

Ntando Mahlangu, of South Africa, speaks of the shame of a family having a disabled child. The Cheetah blades on which he runs enabled him to look people in the eye after twenty years in a wheelchair. These prosthetics have given him the freedom and joy of movement. 

Possibly the most gut-wrenching story belongs to Jean-Baptiste Alaize. At three years old, Alaize’s leg was cut-off with a machete during the Burundian Civil War; he then watched the murder of his mother. He spent the next number of years in an orphanage before being adopted by a French family. For him, running has been part of his escape. “Falling and getting back up again is life.” The film captures his pain but also his surviving courage.

The film builds up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics that almost didn’t happen. Due to financial mismanagement, the Brazilian Olympic committee had used money designated for the Paralympics towards the Olympics themselves. Just weeks before, there was the danger of cancellation. The film’s telling of this is done with the fluidity and tension of a thriller. Fortunately, through last-minute machinations, the event went forward.

Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui and cinematographer Will Pugh have done flawless work creating a tapestry of rich and diverse stories with a unified theme:  Giving up is never an option.

The use of slow-motion and replay along with Greco-statues of the nine participants further elevate this from a traditional documentary. They don’t ignore the darker aspects — the often lack of respect or inclusion — but they celebrate all that is wonderful. They honor the hundreds and often thousands of hours of training, of winning and losing, and of making what seems impossible is possible. The viewer can’t help but be drawn in and deeply, deeply moved by this cinematic achievement.

As Jean-Baptiste Alaize states:  “My disability is my strength.”  Rising Phoenix more than just pays tribute to an important world event.  It shares the faces and the voices of people who truly understand the intersection of diversity and excellence.

Rated PG-13, Rising Phoenix is now streaming on Netflix.

'The Greatest Showman'

Vanderbilt Movie Night

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport continues its movie night series with a screening of “The Greatest Showman” (rated PG),  the story of legendary circus promoter P.T. Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman tonight and Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.

Admission for those who sit in their cars is $40 per carload, $34 for members. Bring lawn chairs and sit outside: admission is $30 per carload, $24 for members. Feel free to bring a blanket and arrive at 7 p.m. to picnic on the lawn. Snacks and ice cream will be available for purchase. Tickets for this fundraising event are available online only at No tickets will be sold at the gate. Questions? Call 854-5579.

'Keeping Up with the Steins'
A scene from ‘Keeping Up with the Steins’

Save the date! Temple Beth Chai, 870 Townline Road, Hauppauge hosts a special outdoor screening of  “Keeping Up with the Steins” on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. Gates open at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $25 per vehicle and must be purchased in advance. For further information, call Penny at 631-724-5807 or email [email protected]

Micheál Richardson and Liam Neeson in a scene from the film.

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

The history of literature, theatre, film, and television is charged with the division between fathers and sons. It has shown the pain and the humor, the discord and the disconnect, the hurt and the healing. It has often been done with great skill and sensitivity.

Spoiler alert: Made in Italy isn’t one of them.

Corollary Spoiler alert: There’s nothing to spoil.

Micheál Richardson and Liam Neeson in a scene from the film.

To say Made in Italy is the definition of predictable is an insult to all of the predictable films that have been … predictable. The film is being presented as a comedy-drama. This is true in that there is comedy and that there is drama. However, it is not so much blended as it is thrown together like two unrelated forms.  Think mustard and sparkplugs.

The plot is simple. In London, twenty-something Jack Foster’s wife is divorcing him. He stands to lose his half of the gallery that they had managed together but which had belonged to her family. His only hope is to get his estranged father, Robert (a dysfunctional artist) to agree to sell the Tuscan house which they co-own. When they arrive, they discover the house is as neglected as their relationship. (How’s that for a metaphor? Do you think that maybe they’ll fix-up the house and rediscover the familial bond?) Over the next hour and thirty minutes, “secrets” (note the quotes; more to come) are “revealed.” (More quotes.)

Robert’s wife has died in a car accident years before. This event has driven a wedge between father and son. It’s not so much that Robert can’t communicate; it’s that he won’t.  At first, he appears difficult and unpleasant but that goes by the wayside fairly quickly so he can be “wise” and “witty.” Jack and Robert’s relationship seems to be built on omission. Or maybe it’s just the script left things out — things like dimension and character motivation. But don’t worry, there’s some “funny” stuff with spaghetti.

Jack meets the village’s local restaurant owner, Natalia, who has a tense relationship with her ex-husband and a custody struggle over their daughter. Love springs between Jack and Natalia. Instantly.

There is slapstick. There are tears. There is forced laughter but little genuine mirth. The whole thing feels like a bad Hallmark connect-the-dots — or in this case, paint-by-numbers. The only thing more banal than the narrative is the dialogue that alternates between forced sitcom jokes and “deep” comments like “people are no good at seeing themselves.” (“Deep,” huh?)

There’s the standard beautiful Italian scenery juxtaposed with the whole range of rundown Money Pit jokes, with requisite dust, dirt, rusty water, and a weasel living in the bathroom. The fact that they are able to fix the house in what seems to be two days is due to myriad montages.

Liam Neeson, Costanza Amati, Valeria Bilello and Micheál Richardson in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of IFC Films

A mural that Robert painted in his darkest hour is on the main wall of the house. It is discussed, commented upon, and joked about. It represents the pain that Robert felt when he lost his wife. We know this because he tells us. So much for symbols or trusting your audience. Robert has hardened himself to his feelings. But has he? Robert cares about nothing.  But wait, does he? Robert can’t deal with his son? But hold on, can he? And more “stuff.” (Last quotes.) Cue laughter. Cue tears. Cue revelations. Set up a conflict and then solve it instantly. Moving on. Nothing to see here. Literally. (Except the mural and the scenery.)

The responsibility for this unsavory stew falls squarely on first time writer-director James D’Arcy who has not succeeded as director but has failed as a writer. Any salvageable moments are due to Liam Neeson, as Robert; Neeson is an actor incapable of giving a bad performance. He does his best to infuse Robert with a bit of life and has been given a few substantial comedic and dramatic moments.

Neeson’s real-life son, Micheál Richardson, plays Jack. Whether his awkwardness is intentional or not, it kinda-sorta works (maybe a little). Valeria Bilello is charming as Natalia, but the character has truly nothing new to offer. Lindsay Duncan makes the most of the no-nonsense realtor, Kate, who is engaged to sell the house. She is a great actor and one wishes she had been given more to do. There are several people who come to look at the house and a few generic villagers; they have been handed what could charitably be called caricatures.

Finally, one can’t help thinking of the vague and truly uncomfortable life parallel. Neeson’s wife and Micheál’s mother was the gifted actor Natasha Richardson, who died tragically from head injuries sustained in a skiing accident in 2009. The shadow of this does a disservice to her memory, and somehow feels inappropriate and diminishing. While one would hope the creators’ were not using this particularly terrible event as a core, you can’t help but wonder. The reality is there and really can’t be denied. It is a sour coda to an unsatisfying film.

Rated R, Made in Italy is now streaming on demand.

A scene from 'Rio'

Vanderbilt Movie Night

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport continues its movie night series with a screening of “Rio,” the popular animated adventure of a macaw in Rio de Janeiro, on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. Admission for those who sit in their cars is $40 per carload, $34 for members. Bring lawn chairs and sit outside: admission is $30 per carload, $24 for members.Come early, bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds at 7 p.m. Snacks and ice cream will be available for purchase. Tickets for this fundraising event are available online only at No tickets will be sold at the gate. Questions? Call 854-5579.

Dixie Egerickx in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of STXfilms

Reviewed By Jeffrey Sanzel

British-American novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote three dozen novels for children. Of these, the best known were Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden, all published between 1885 and 1911. While the first two have had various cinematic incarnations, it is The Secret Garden that has endured, in remakes on film and television over a half dozen times. It was also the source for the 1991 Tony-nominated Broadway musical.

Amir Wilson, Edan Hayhurst and Dixie Egerickx in a scene from the film. 

Set at the turn of the 20th century, The Secret Garden has a dark narrative and, interestingly, a difficult and selfish protagonist. Unlike the title characters in Fauntleroy and Princess, Mary Lennox is a willful, headstrong child; she is indulged by her servants and used to getting her own way. After her parents die of the cholera in India, Mary is sent to live at Misselthwaite Manor, an isolated mansion on the Yorkshire moors. There she is to live with her Uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. Archibald is a damaged and distant widower, brooding over the loss of his beloved wife.

Mary learns that her behavior will not be tolerated and is forced to become more self-sufficient and respectful. Hearing sobbing in the night, she discovers the invalid boy, Colin, who is kept hidden away. Told that he is too frail to be out in the world, Colin is another self-absorbed and difficult child. It is a story of deception and despair as well as hope, growth, and awakening; the titular garden is a metaphor for death and rebirth.

The current adaptation is directed by Marc Munden, from a screenplay by Jack Thorne.  (Thorne is responsible for last season’s Broadway production of A Christmas Carol, an introspective, intriguing, and literate vision.) The creators have moved the action to 1947, the eve of the partition between India and Pakistan. This was a time of deep unrest as thousands fled conflict and disease.

The opening sequences accentuate Mary’s abandonment, with the house in disarray; she listens to the not-so-distant sounds of gunshots, forced to fend for herself. She eats rotting food and drinks tea dregs, telling herself and her doll tales of the Indian gods.  Her ability to tell stories is one that follows through the rest of the narrative.

Colin Firth in a scene from the film.

Next, she is put on a sort of Indian Kindertransport and sent to England. She arrives at Misselthwaite, which looms like a haunted Downton Abbey. The house is in disrepair, having been used as a hospital during the war. She is warned by the housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, not to go “poking about.” The film then begins to follow the novel: Mary wandering around the vast, empty rooms, eventually discovering the temperamental Colin, a boy whose manners are worse than hers. What ensues is Mary’s healing herself through her healing of Colin. She goes from spoiled and demanding (she won’t even dress herself) to generous and self-reliant. It is a predictable journey but a good lesson for younger viewers.

The Secret Garden is not a plot driven piece but is more rooted in character and atmosphere. Different versions focus on the personal struggles; others highlight the more fantastical elements. In the current offering, it is a mix, with emphasis placed equally on the relationship of Mary’s and Colin’s mothers, who were twins. They are seen in flashbacks as well as spirit guides in the present. The garden itself is an almost mystical jungle, an idyll with oversized plants and hundreds of CGI-ed butterflies. Lights dapple on moss-covered trees as the verdant bower explodes in vivid color.

In Thorne’s screenplay, Mary learns almost too quickly to say “please.” There isn’t much an arc as instantaneous awareness. Within a day of her arrival, she has befriended a stray dog, and there are many shots of them running on the grounds to the strains of Disney-like accompaniment. It is the dog that leads her to the secret garden. 

The acceleration of action is a problem that could be leveled at the entire film.  Development is rushed to get to the next grand image. There are many fantasy moments (wallpaper that comes to life, the sisters appearing and disappearing, etc.) but seeing the characters interacting would have made for more of an emotional investment.

Dixie Egerickx is an engrossing Mary Lennox. She’s a rough-and-tumble survivor and never has a false moment. There is always a sense that she is taking everything in; she is a wonderful mix of spontaneity and thoughtfulness. Amir Wilson makes an honest, vaguely feral Dickon, brother to the housemaid Martha (a solid but underused Isis Davis); a sort of local “wild boy,” he and Mary clear the garden together and form a deep bond.

Edan Hayhurst’s Colin is a bit shrill and one-note but that is the nature of the character; he does manage a nice shift in his ultimate awakening. The usually formidable Julie Walters doesn’t have much to do as the sour Mrs. Medlock; she clomps up and down stairs, opening and closing doors, and jangling her keys.

Colin Firth is a terrific actor and the tormented Archibald should have been an ideal match for his skills. Sadly, he has barely any screen time, appearing briefly on Mary’s arrival and then disappearing for the next hour. He has a few nice moments (in particular, in his late wife’s room) but it’s just not enough. Archibald is a fascinating character with dimensional possibilities that are sadly unexplored. His absence tamps down any real build in tension, and what should be his climactic reunion with his son Colin is less than cathartic. It doesn’t help that it is brought about by a clumsy, melodramatic twist.

The Secret Garden touches on many themes.  At its heart, it is about how forgiveness — of both others and of ourselves — leads to understanding. In this case, incomplete families become whole by embracing truths that have been kept hidden. Painful memories come to light and this leads to acceptance and growth. And while the newest version of The Secret Garden is certainly not definitive, it is visually striking and has a bold, believable Mary its center.

Rated PG, The Secret Garden is now streaming on demand.

Photos courtesy of STXfilms

AS YOU WISH Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star in ‘The Princess Bride’
Movie Night at the Vanderbilt:
‘The Princess Bride

Friday and Saturday, August 21-22

Have some retro summer fun this weekend and enjoy a great movie outdoors! The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be showing the beloved fairy tale adventure The Princess Bride on Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22.

André the Giant and Robin Wright in a scene from ‘The Princess Bride.’

Admission for those who sit in their cars is $40 per carload, $34 for Members. Bring lawn chairs and sit outside: admission is $30 per carload, $24 for Members. Tickets for this fundraising event are available online only. Reserve tickets early. Absolutely no sales at the gate.

Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds and arrive at 7 p.m. The movie starts at 8 p.m. Snacks and ice cream will be available for purchase.

For everyone’s safety, all visitors must adhere strictly to all current public health and safety guidelines and practices. Please stay safe and practice social distancing. Please wear a mask when unable to maintain six feet of social distance.

The bathrooms at the gatehouse will be open to one family/visitor group at a time. A custodian sanitizes bathroom touchpoints regularly.

The film uncovers footage that the congressman/activist had never seen. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
New documentary is a loving tribute to an American hero

Reviewed By Jeffrey Sanzel

Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.

Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis

When Congressman John Lewis passed away on July 17 at age eighty, the world lost the man who was called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.” Lewis was a beacon for the protection of human rights and won the respect and admiration of colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Having dedicated his life to the Civil Rights movement, he was a member of the “Big Six” who organized the legendary 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, he led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In the infamous Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965), he was one of the nearly six hundred marchers who were viciously attacked. Lewis suffered a skull fracture, and he bore the forehead scars for the rest of his life.

Now, Dawn Porter has directed the powerful and absorbing documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. The title refers to a belief that Lewis held his entire life: 

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

Lewis said that age fifteen he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to get into “good trouble.”

The ninety minutes are a portrait of a man of deep belief and unfathomable courage. Much of the film focuses on the all-important voting rights. Instead of taking a traditional linear biographical approach, it alternates between his work in the 1960’s with his continued work in the 2000’s. Porter is clearly drawing a parallel between the two eras. The first where there was a struggle to secure equal voting opportunities for African Americans and other minorities, and the present where these secured rights are once again imperiled. 

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

The documentary opens with and frequently returns to Lewis watching film footage of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, much of which he has never seen. In his stillness is the wisdom of a man who has seen much and experienced more. His pain is mixed with pride and awareness. Occasionally, he comments on what he is watching, but mostly he just takes it in. It is incredibly moving in its simplicity as he reviews many of the most disturbing moments in a long history.

Interspersed with archival clips, many featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy (for whom Lewis worked at the time of his assassination), George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Barack Obama, are short interviews including Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, Elijah Cummings, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cory Booker, and Ilhan Omar, all praising the Congressman’s work and his commitment. These help shape the overall picture of Lewis and his journey.

He is shown on the campaign trail with young, vibrant contenders, frequently first time candidates. Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams are just two of the many he has supported. There are wonderful clips of his unchecked joy watching the returns of the 2018 mid-terms. 

The film gives only a sketch of his personal life and history, with appearances of his sisters and brothers, who clearly love him but remain slightly in awe of his accomplishments. His wife and son are briefly touched upon, and her passing in 2012 was clearly a blow. There is a brief bit about his friendship with Julian Bond that turned acrimonious when they ran against each other. Few details are given but clearly this was a difficult personal time in his career.

What continues to come across is Lewis’s incredible warmth and generosity, a gentle leader and a continuing inspiration. His humor is in stark contrast with the often fiery passion he shows when speaking.  His speeches are mesmerizing in their raw honesty. These are as much a part of him as are the amusing anecdotes that are introduced throughout. (His preaching to the chickens as a boy can only be appreciated by listening to his telling.)

A viral dance, his reaction to the election of President Obama as well as that president’s gratitude towards him, and his easy banter with his longtime chief of staff, Michael Collins, are just some of the glimpses into his gracious humanity. His message of non-violence is continually emphasized. The right to protest but the responsibility to do it without intentional harm was deeply rooted in his choices and actions. 

But central to the film and Lewis’s story is the quest to eradicate voter suppression. This is been the head and heart of Lewis’s life. In addition to the many important moments of the 1960’s is the bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 2006. The subsequent 2013 attack on it led to the 2016 election being the first without the protection of this act.

I fear that we are facing the end of democracy. As long as I have breath in my body, I’ll do what I can.”

The film builds to a quick sequence highlighting the dozens of bills that Lewis co-sponsored, the breadth of his work including not only voting and civil rights but gun control, health care reform, immigration, and a host of other important social issues. It is clear that his goal has been to make a better, freer, and more equal world:

As a nation and a people, we are not quite there yet; we have miles to go.

Porter never shies away from presenting disturbing and often brutal images, including attacks during marches, sit-ins, and lunch counter desegregations. There is nothing sensationalist about her choices; they are an honest representation of a dark blot on our country’s history. But the film truly honors the spirit and accomplishments of John Lewis. It is a documentary that should be viewed by families and seen in classrooms, discussed, contemplated, and taken to heart. The final words of the film are appropriately his:

We will create a beloved community. We will redeem the soul of America. There may be some setbacks, some delays … but as a nation and as a people, we will get there. And I still believe, we shall overcome.

Rated PG, John Lewis: Good Trouble is now streaming on demand.