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 a quarter-century, 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 partner 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."

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2:54pm

Tue June 19, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Hollywood Dreams Of Wealth, Youth And Beauty

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 5:59 pm

Paulette Goddard in the Tramp's (Charlie Chaplin) dream of a middle-class life in Modern Times.
Chaplin/United Artists/The Kobal Collection

Tinseltown didn't invent the American dream, but it sure put it out there for the world to see — a dream lit by the perpetual sunshine of Southern California, steeped in the values of the immigrant filmmakers who moved there in the early 1900s and got enormously rich.

It was their own outsider experience these Italian, Irish, German and often Jewish moviemakers were putting on screen, each optimistic, escapist fantasy a virtual American dream checklist:

  • Hard work carries the day in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
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3:13pm

Tue June 5, 2012
Monkey See

Home Video Picks: 'The Sting'

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 6:53 pm

The cover of The Sting.

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from movie critic Bob Mondello. He's says he's excited about the Blu-ray release of The Sting...and that's no con.

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1:00pm

Mon May 28, 2012
Movies

A Selective Preview Of Summer Movies

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 2:01 pm

Pixar's Brave follows the independent and courageous Merida (voice by Kelly Macdonald).
Pixar

Forget the calendar. With The Avengers, Battleship, and Men In Black already battling aliens at the multiplex, Hollywood's summer has arguably been under way for weeks.

No doubt, the tent-pole blockbusters — Ridley Scott's Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy, and the rest — will offer plenty of entertainment value, but there are a couple of hardy, resourceful little girls you might want to attend to, too.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27)

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2:23pm

Fri May 18, 2012
Movie Reviews

Coming Soon — To A Theater Nowhere Near You

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 5:34 pm

A scene from Battleship, which opens this weekend in the U.S. Thanks to earlier releases abroad, the film has already grossed $215 million worldwide.
ILM/Universal Pictures

The movie Battleship, based on the popular board game, opens today in the U.S. In most respects, it's a typical popcorn picture — the kind of effects-laden action movie that audiences often turn into a summer blockbuster.

And while it may not be any good, it is undeniably ours — American from the water up: a Universal Studios picture about an alien invasion, crammed with special effects from Industrial Light and Magic and set largely on American warships.

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3:16pm

Tue May 15, 2012
Monkey See

Home Video Picks: 'Being John Malkovich'

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 4:46 pm

John Cusack and Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich.
Criterion Collection

Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our film critic Bob Mondello. This time Bob urges taking the plunge from the seven-and-a-half-th floor into the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Being John Malkovich.

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