Bob Mondello

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.

For more than three decades, Mondello has reviewed movies and covered the arts for NPR, seeing at least 300 films annually, then sharing critiques and commentaries about the most intriguing on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered. In 2005, he conceived and co-produced NPR's eight-part series "American Stages," exploring the history, reach, and accomplishments of the regional theater movement.

Mondello has also written about the arts for USA Today, The Washington Post, Preservation Magazine, and other publications, and has appeared as an arts commentator on commercial and public television stations. He spent 25 years reviewing live theater for Washington City Paper, DC's leading alternative weekly, and to this day, he remains enamored of the stage.

Before becoming a professional critic, Mondello learned the ins and outs of the film industry by heading the public relations department for a chain of movie theaters, and he reveled in film history as advertising director for an independent repertory theater.

Asked what NPR pieces he's proudest of, he points to an April Fool's prank in which he invented a remake of Citizen Kane, commentaries on silent films — a bit of a trick on radio — and cultural features he's produced from Argentina, where he and his husband have a second home.

An avid traveler, Mondello even spends his vacations watching movies and plays in other countries. "I see as many movies in a year," he says, "as most people see in a lifetime."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Steven Spielberg's pets are off the leash again.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM")

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL GIACCHINO'S "THE GLORY DAYS")

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Despite its title, the new romantic comedy "The Year Of Spectacular Men" is mostly about women. Critic Bob Mondello says men do play a role, though, by providing lots of complications.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At one point early in the new Marvel movie Avengers: Infinity War, the big, purple bad guy snarls, "The end ... is near."

In a way, he's talking about the Avengers movies themselves. The superhero supergroup has already saved the world in three movies and countless comic books. But this time they're up against that aforementioned bad guy — a violet-colored villainous space-tryant called Thanos (Josh Brolin) — and it's not just the world that's in danger, at least according to his estranged daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

What happens to a relationship when its rules change?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

This Sunday night, some nattily dressed Oscars presenter will read the names of this year's five nominees for best foreign-language film. The politically-charged Foxtrot — which received funding from the Israeli government as well as condemnation from Israel's culture minister (who boasts that she has not seen it) — won't be among them.

That's a shame.

Director Andrey Zvyagintsev's Loveless -- Russia's submission to this year's Academy Awards, and one of the five movies up for best foreign language film come Oscar night — begins with two parents screaming at each other about their upcoming divorce.

They're trying to sell their apartment, and it quickly becomes clear that their relationship is so toxic they'd probably sell their kid, too, if they could get away with it. Neither of them wants to take care of 12-year-old Aloysha (Matvey Novikov), who's sobbing quietly in the shower as they argue.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

By the time Angels In America got to Broadway in 1993, after workshops, a pair of west-coast stagings, and an ecstatically received London production, it played like the smash audiences had heard it was.

When Orlando (Francisco Reyes) enters a rooftop supper-club in Santiago at the beginning of the film, he can't take his eyes off Marina (Daniela Vega), a striking young vocalist who's crooning lyrics about throwing her boyfriend out with the garbage because, she sings, his love "is like yesterday's newspaper."

She sings that line straight to Orlando, with a little smile. She's definitely not throwing him away ... she's moving into his apartment as soon as they celebrate her 27th birthday.

Steven Spielberg's The Post is a story of journalists, government leaks, and a president who hates the press. It's about the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, but there's a reason Spielberg rushed to tell the story now.

And he really did rush: The filmmaker has long talked about making a Pentagon Papers movie, but the 2016 election made him feel it had become urgent. He got the working script just weeks after the Inauguration, rounded up his high-powered cast, and leapt into production as if he were making a little indie flick on the fly.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hollywood offers up lots of brightly wrapped presents - kid flicks, awards contenders, blockbuster wannabes. And around this time every year, we check in with movie critic Bob Mondello for his holiday movie preview.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

You know what today is? It's Thorsday (ph). Marvel's hammer-throwing Norse god is back in movie theaters. NPR critic Bob Mondello says whole worlds are at stake in "Thor: Ragnarok."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

You had to wonder how director Sean Baker would follow up his shot-on-an-iPhone, transgender-prostitute comedy Tangerine if he ever got a hold of enough cash to pay for a star and a Steadicam. His extraordinary, almost-homeless-family dramedy, The Florida Project, provides the exhilarating answer.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It would be hard to pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh with more fervor or devotion than filmmakers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman bring to Loving Vincent, in which they've not only created thousands of new oil paintings in his style, but also made him the subject of a murder-mystery.

Pages