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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Movie Reviews
10:52 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Stirring Adventures, At Home (In A Zoo) And Abroad

Matt Damon gets up close and personal with one of his new four-legged family members in We Bought A Zoo.
Neal Preston Twentieth Century Fox

After being force-fed a steady diet of Oscar hopefuls for almost a month, I may just be ready for empty-calorie time at the cineplex. But I have to confess a sense of relief this week, as I watched entertainments that didn't seem to want to do anything other than show an audience a good time.

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Monkey See
2:27 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

DVD Picks: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Acorn Media

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 6:36 pm

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from our film critic, Bob Mondello. With a new movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opening this week, Bob's suggesting the TV original.

At some point in my youth, I must have known the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor/ soldier, sailor/ rich man, poor man/beggar man, thief," but since 1979, the instant someone says "Tinker Tailor," the next two words that occur to me are "Alec Guinness."

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Monkey See
3:35 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

DVD Picks: 'West Side Story'

'Tonight' Music: Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood played Tony and Maria in the 1961 film of West Side Story.
Fox Home Entertainment

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 5:02 pm

Time now for a home video recommendation from movie critic Bob Mondello. This week he's looking back a half-century, to a ground-breaking musical that won ten Oscars, West Side Story.

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Monkey See
3:46 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

DVD Picks: 'Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection'

Universal Studios

Time for our home video feature, where NPR movie critic Bob Mondello suggests something for those who like to pop their own popcorn and pop in a video. For this Halloween week, Bob suggests sending a shiver up your spine with some classics from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection.

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Movie Reviews
12:04 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

High Anxieties Make For A Mad, Mad Movie World

Here Bums The Bride: Lars von Trier's Melancholia centers on a newlywed (Kirsten Dunst) whose chronic depression leaves her singularly well-equipped to confront the end of the world.

Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 8:42 pm

In the space of a few weeks, Hollywood will give us four serious dramas about mentally unstable characters. It's a minitrend at best, and most likely coincidental. But it got me thinking about how filmmakers use narrative form to shake up audiences and put them in the same frame of mind as the characters they're watching.

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Movies
3:11 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

Remakes Rethink: Is Hollywood Really Out Of Ideas?

Holding out for ... what again? A remake of 1984's Footloose (with Kevin Bacon) has some fans crying foul — but if Aretha Franklin can earn respect with an Otis Redding song, why can't Hollywood take a second look at something?

The Kobal Collection Picture Desk

It's been a big year for Hollywood remakes — more than a dozen, not counting sequels. There were new versions of Conan the Barbarian and Arthur this summer. Fresh incarnations of Footloose and The Thing open today. And soon we'll see Hollywood's take on the Swedish hit The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Cue the standard complaint: Hollywood has run out of ideas.

Hold on, though. Let's think this through.

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Movies
3:50 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Movie Review: 'The Ides of March'

A political thriller, The Ides of March, opens Friday. That's one week before the ides of October — and a few months before the first presidential primaries.

Monkey See
3:12 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

DVD Picks: 'The Honeymooners'

MPI Home Video

Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 5:52 pm

Time for our movie critic Bob Mondello to suggest something for home-viewing. Today, he's exploring a 15-disk collection of classic TV comedy that nobody's seen for a while: The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes.

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Monkey See
2:41 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

DVD Picks: 'Ben-Hur'

Warner Home Video

Time for our movie critic Bob Mondello's suggestions for home-viewing. Today he's recommending a wide-screen 1950s epic that was specifically designed to draw people away from their TV sets: Ben-Hur.

Everything about Ben-Hur was big. Reeeeally big. The sound was stereophonic (which was new back then), the screen wider than all outdoors, and that chariot race — flat-out enormous.

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