Bob MondelloBob Mondello reviews movies and covers the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays annually, and shares critiques and commentaries on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered.
Poor Donna Reed: Her Mary would have ended up working in a library — shudder — if not for the matrimonial intervention of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey. Happily, 1946's It's a Wonderful Life isn't the only lens through which pop culture assesses the worth of the institution and those who make it tick.
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Harold Lloyd (left) is the All-American Boy, a striver who'll brave nearly anything to get to the top and win The Girl. Noah Young is The Law (center) and Bill Strother is The Pal.
The opening of The Act of Killing, whichseems like something out of a Bollywood musical, has a happy energy about it. But as we'll learn, the two men in the center led death squads in the 1960s, when an estimated 1.2 million Indonesians were killed. In Joshua Oppenheimer's astonishing documentary, they obligingly re-enact their crimes.
Broadway performer Ruby Keeler was a source of optimism for many during the Depression era, and nostalgia hit audiences hard when she returned to the stage decades later.
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Mads Mikkelsen's Lukas is a recently divorced kindergarten teacher whose life is turned upside down when officials leap to conclusions after a 5-year-old says something that suggests improper conduct.
There's a backstory for just about everything in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, including what drives the title character (Armie Hammer) to don the mask — and what's up with that dead crow Tonto (Johnny Depp) wears on his head.
Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures
'Heat' Stroke: The genius of this buddy-cop comedy is in its pairing of Sandra Bullock (left, as a by-the-book process nerd of an FBI suit) with Melissa McCarthy, who plays a sloppy Boston detective with no patience for procedure.
Gemma La Mana/Fox
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) puts his past as a U.N. investigator to work again when he and his family — not to mention the rest of the planet — are threatened by a zombie apocalypse.