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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."

The World War II drama, Land of Mine , has what sounds like the season's proudest, most patriotic title, but it's actually a dark pun — a reference to the more than one million land mines the Nazis buried on the Danish coastline, hoping to deter an Allied invasion. Perhaps the strategy worked, since American and British forces landed miles away in Normandy on D-Day, but it left Denmark with a booby trapped west coast, and a logistical problem of staggering proportions. The coastline wasn't...

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Here's an almost unbelievable journey - a 4-year-old boy swept thousands of miles from home who 25 years later struggles to find his way back. A few years ago when writer Saroo Brierley spoke to NPR about his early life, it sounded like the plot of a movie. Today, it is a movie, and critic Bob Mondello says "Lion" is quite a trip. BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Saroo is 5 when we meet him, a kid who dashes confidently...

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/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: J.K. Rowling might have conjured her last "Harry Potter" novel, but she is still making magic. Her film "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them" takes place decades before Harry was born. It's a prequel of sorts, centered on a not-quite-so-young wizard who accidentally releases some unusual creatures in 1920s New York. And speaking of creatures, the animators at Studio Ghibli are releasing "The Red Turtle" for...

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