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 in Washington, D.C., just as it was about to fold," saw that jink broken in 1984, when he came to NPR.

For more than three decades, Mondello has reviewed movies and covered the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays 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 such diverse publications as USA Today, The Washington Post, and Preservation Magazine, as well as for commercial and public television stations. And he has been a lead theater critic for Washington City Paper, D.C.'s leading alternative weekly, since 1987.

Before becoming a professional critic, Mondello spent more than a decade in entertainment advertising, working in public relations for a chain of movie theaters, where he learned the ins and outs of the film industry, and for an independent repertory theater, where he reveled in film history.

Asked what NPR pieces he's proudest of, he points to 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 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Among the many things to be thankful for today, let's include Hollywood, which has been working hard to distract us from real life. Movies featuring superheroes and animated animals set box office records in 2016. And still to come to a theater near you - haunted real estate, droids and lightsabers and dad jokes. NPR's movie critic Bob Mondello has our holiday preview. BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Someone say droids and...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Mel Gibson's last directing project was the human sacrifice film "Apocalypto" in 2006. His new movie "Hacksaw Ridge" is also about human sacrifice. This time, it's in an apocalypse called World War II. Andrew Garfield stars. Gibson is behind the camera. And critic Bob Mondello says they're a pretty effective team. BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: There are formulas to war movies. And for a while, "Hacksaw Ridge" follows one...

We keep hearing that this election is like no other, but when I watch old movies, I often hear echoes of what's going on in the campaign. The guy who opines in A Face in the Crowd (1957), say, that in the then-new age of television, "instead of long-winded public debates, people want capsule slogans." Though the stellar ratings for this year's presidential debates suggest that people are actually looking for a little long-windedness these days, his thoughts on sloganeering still...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: We're going to remember one of the world's most celebrated film directors. Andrzej Wajda died Sunday evening at the age of 90. His films reflected Poland's troubled 20th century and were sometimes difficult for foreign audiences. But critic Bob Mondello says they're worth the effort. BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: If you're looking for evidence of filmmaking smarts, it's right there in Andrzej Wajda's first black-and...

If you're looking for evidence of Andrzej Wajda's filmmaking smarts, it's right there in his first, black-and-white movie, made in 1955. A trench-coated young man races through Warsaw at the height of World War II, past corpses dangling from streetlights, pursued by Nazi soldiers who chase him into a building and up a central staircase. He's only just committed himself to the resistance, but he's breathtakingly effective, shooting soldiers as he goes higher until his way is blocked by bars....

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up this weekend. It's the largest film festival in North America - some 300 films in just 10 days. Now, many of these movies will be released widely in the next few months. NPR's movie critic, Bob Mondello, is at the festival, and he joins us now. Bob, how was it? BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: It was amazing. I had - actually, it is amazing. It's still going on. I had the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: A forgetful fish named Dory turned out to be this summer's big movie star. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FINDING NEMO") ELLEN DEGENERES: (As Dory) Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. ALBERT BROOKS: (As Marlin) Dory, no singing. CORNISH: Dory easily topped superheroes, ghost busters and star trekkers. Summer's important for Hollywood, and the box office total this year will be more than $4...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1TawOepKxE We don't call Hollywood a "Dream Factory" for nothing. Have a vision of the sort of place you'd like to live? Tinseltown can bring it to life, whether you're thinking along the lines of Walt Disney's Main Street, Andy Hardy's Carvel, Idaho, or the " Somewhere That's Green " envisioned by skid-row resident Audrey in the satirical musical Little Shop of Horrors: A matchbox of our own
A fence of real chain link
A grill out on the...

This piece was inspired by NPR's summer recommendation series, Read, Watch, Binge! Over the next two weeks, Republicans and Democrats will gather in Cleveland and Philadelphia for a ritual that has become almost entirely ceremonial: Each party will "select" pre-selected presidential candidates. Of course, it's all for show. There hasn't been a second round of voting (a second ballot) at a major party presidential convention since 1952. But I know exactly what a "contested"...

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