Bob Mondello

Bob Mondello
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: NPR.org, NPR

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
73% My Salinger Year (2020) A lot going on in "My Salinger Year," though perhaps not enough of consequence to make audiences feel particularly beholden to the filmmaker. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2021
93% Blue Story (2020) For a big screen directing debut, "Blue Story" is pretty accomplished. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
94% Nomadland (2021) "Nomadland" is a chronicle of the Great Recession that plays like a quietly thoughtful, real-life "Grapes of Wrath," with McDormand's Fern as its understated Tom Joad - strong, resolute, haunting. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2021
88% News of the World (2020) There's a lot that's familiar and conventional in "News Of The World" to go with little tugs of something more interesting in its premise. Savor the tugs. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 3, 2021
98% Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) August Wilson's tale of what it means to be a Black artist in a racist society is hardly new, but the telling of that tale has never been more artful or more urgently performed than it is in this incarnation of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2020
55% The Prom (2020) The effect, stretched over two-plus hours, can be a bit much, but credit Murphy with harnessing both dance energy and unfettered star power to showcase an inclusive story about gay sweethearts. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
100% Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) A raucous odyssey filled with twists, setbacks, smart strategizing, and unlikely strokes of luck. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2020
99% Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) A generous, affirmative portrait of female friendship and solidarity, a film that is never preachy, rarely in any way judgmental, sometimes raw and always filled with hope. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2020
95% First Cow (2020) A resonant, funny and quite moving shaggy cow story. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2020
88% Onward (2020) Even mid-level Pixar still casts a spell. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 7, 2020
99% Saint Frances (2020) "Saint Frances" hits a sweet spot that's really sweet. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2020
87% Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Director Peyton Reed and his army of screenwriters haven't made "Ant-Man And The Wasp" a terribly clever movie, but it's clever enough to keep you from reaching for bug spray. And in the summer, Marvel has apparently decided that's all that's required. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 27, 2020
89% 1917 (2020) The filmmakers don't shy from set pieces that would be astonishing even without their central gimmick. They set themselves a challenge for "1917", and met it in ways sure to be talked about by lovers of cinema for quite a while. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2019
51% Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) It doesn't do anything new or even terribly distinctive, but maybe it didn't have to. It just had to be good enough to stick the landing, and it does that. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 22, 2019
98% Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) Let's just say that by "Parasite's" conclusion, what started out as a comedy of manners has become a furious snarl of rage and his most arresting social satire yet. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2019
72% The Aeronauts (2019) I won't make great claims for "The Aeronauts" as a drama about a pioneering meteorologist, but as a thrill ride, it's certainly effective... - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2019
78% Frozen II (2019) The characters are sprightly, the songs tailor-made for the Broadway show they'll someday inhabit. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2019
95% The Irishman (2019) While "The Irishman" is like many mob movies about violence and betrayal, it's a work of a filmmaker who has earned the right to sum up this genre. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 3, 2019
80% Jojo Rabbit (2019) Jojo Rabbit is gently comic for a while, and then surprisingly affecting at the end, so perhaps it's not fair to wish that Waititi had opted to deal more directly with the horrors of the Third Reich. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2019
96% Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) The colors alone will inspire doctoral dissertations. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 7, 2019
93% Sword of Trust (2019) But as its cast of terrific comics thrusts and parries, Sword of Trust makes improvisation - something really difficult to pull off at feature length - seem an absolute snap. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 12, 2019
90% Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) The stakes this time turn out to be considerably lower, and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Teen is arguably just the guy to bring things down to Earth and reestablish a human scale. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 8, 2019
60% Ophelia (2019) Brevity is the soul of wit, and sumptuousness the soul of costume drama, which the movie "Ophelia" quite extravagantly is. The images are gorgeous; the feminism, gratifying. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 29, 2019
50% Tolkien (2019) It's perhaps understandable that the Tolkien estate isn't interested in being associated with this biopic - and not just because it simplifies and fudges, as biopics do. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) No matter how much homework you've done, what actually happens, the order in which it happens and the folks to whom it happens will still pack surprises - also tongue-in-cheekiness and quite a bit of lump-in-throatiness. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
73% On the Basis of Sex (2019) Leder's approach to the story of a genuinely remarkable woman is genuinely, remarkably ... conventional. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
65% Vice (2018) Growling, gruff, and grumpy Bale makes the title character a lot like his Batman - basically a psychopath-turned-vigilante. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) By the end of "If Beale Street Could Talk," it was me who could barely talk. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
62% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) The filmmakers have come up with a nifty, billowing fabric sequence to keep them apart while together, and that's enough to satisfy my urge to fact check, at least when the performances are as much fun as they are in "Mary Queen of Scots." - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
77% Anna and the Apocalypse (2018) If you're looking for polish or sophistication from "Anna And The Apocalypse," you're chomping on the wrong neck. But the songs are bouncy, the performances fresh and the gore happily not in any way related to real life. You got to love that. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
95% Roma (2018) "Roma" had wrapped me in its spell that completely, it would be hard to imagine a more artful arthouse attraction. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 26, 2018
93% The Favourite (2018) A Restoration comedy filtered through this director's eccentric, modern sensibilities is what "The Favourite" most resembles - witty, profane, sexually explicit, improper in the extreme, a comedy of manners without any manners at all. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 26, 2018
91% Maria By Callas (2018) The film is unfailingly sympathetic to the diva at its center. It accepts her status as a legend and does its best to enhance it. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2018
61% Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) As for Freddie Mercury, is this his real life? Is this just fantasy - not sure that really matters either. When Malek's strutting like a peacock, this movie is a decently amusing escape from reality. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2018
73% El Angel (El ángel) (2018) El Angel is sensuous enough to suggest the work of Pedro Almodovar. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
11% Deception (2008) When sex (and mystery) gives way to a multimillion-dollar heist (and explanations), the whole thing just gets silly. Sexy fun for a while, though. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 5, 2018
89% ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway (2007) There's loads of talent on display (from puppets to Boy George), plus plenty of dish about them all. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 5, 2018
93% Wildlife (2018) "Wildlife's" portrait of family life is much like the director's many onscreen performances - understated, sad-eyed, deeply affecting. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2018
84% Monsters and Men (2018) A lesser movie might weave these threads into a narrative that exploits real-world parallels - viral social media, athletes who take a knee, cops who close ranks. "Monsters And Men" doesn't pander or dismiss. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2018
80% 22 July (2018) The result is that what starts out harrowing ends up affirming a portrait of a country that unites to make the tragedy of 22 July count for something - the strength of their national character. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2018
80% Mid90s (2018) The cast is mostly skaters, not actors, but they're persuasive as pals, and Hill is clearly having fun. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
90% Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) The last shot had me choking back sobs. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) "Maybe the bond is stronger when you choose your family," says someone, and darned if the film doesn't make a good case for that notion. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
85% Girl (2019) Where most queer films are about external conflicts and prejudice, Lara's primary conflict in this movie is with what she sees in the mirror. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) As Israel, Melissa McCarthy is caustic, profane, curmudgeonly, affecting and very funny, as is Richard E. Grant as a gay alcoholic who becomes her accomplice. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
97% 13th (2016) In her documentary, 13th, Ava DuVernay cites the wording of the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude "except as a punishment for crime..." but DuVernay gives the argument enormous cinematic force. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2018
92% We the Animals (2018) Somehow... Zagar has found a way to let the film's scenes surface and recede the way memories do. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2018
88% Madeline's Madeline (2018) Helena Howard makes a heart-stopping professional debut as Madeline caught between Molly Parker's manipulative acting teacher and Miranda July's differently manipulative mom. - NPR's All Things Considered EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2018
96% BlacKkKlansman (2018) There's serious tension in BlackkKlansman's situation, and the film embraces the shifts in mood with shifts in filmmaking style that allow Lee to couch his arguments in a kind of shorthand history of Hollywood's treatment of race. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 9, 2018
86% The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) The director has enough faith in her audience to risk making all of the characters complicated, multifaceted and true-to-life. - NPR's All Things Considered EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2018