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 โ€“ a bit of a trick on radio โ€“ 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."

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Movies
5:09 pm
Mon May 25, 2015

Hollywood Promises Summer Of Blockbusters, And Could Deliver

Originally published on Mon May 25, 2015 5:52 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:23 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Just Like Its Theme Park Namesake, 'Tomorrowland' Celebrates Optimism

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 7:32 pm

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Theater
4:31 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

'My Fair Lady' Couldn't Actually Dance All Night, So These Songs Had To Go

Julie Andrews starred as flower girl Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway premiere of My Fair Lady.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 6:17 pm

When a Broadway musical feels as effortlessly right as Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's did to audiences in 1956, it's easy to imagine that it simply sprang to life that way. Not My Fair Lady. The musical, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, is filled to bursting with some of the best-known songs in Broadway history โ€” "The Rain In Spain," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "On the Street Where You Live" โ€” but it turns out the show originally had other tunes that almost nobody knows.

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Movie Reviews
7:06 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

'Far From The Madding Crowd': Counterprogramming Writ Victorian

Far From the Madding Crowd features feisty heroines, sturdy heroes, and three โ€” yes, three --ย€ย” men vying for the heroine's affection.
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Sat May 2, 2015 12:59 am

Genre flicks on steroids โ€” that's the general rule for this time of year, whether we're talking superheroes, supercharged cars, or romance โ€” and in that context, the lush, overstuffed costume epic, Far From the Madding Crowd is a perfect fit.

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Remembrances
3:58 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Pat Dowell, Longtime NPR Film Critic, Dies

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 5:25 pm

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Longtime NPR contributor Pat Dowell died Sunday after a long illness. She was 66. Pat covered film for nearly 30 years. Our critic Bob Mondello remembers his late colleague.

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Movie Reviews
6:29 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Ties That Bind Meet Lies That Blind In 'About Elly'

About Elly is "perched right on the fault line between modern thinking and Islamic tradition," says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
Courtesy of Dreamlab Films

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 5:23 pm

Most Americans don't have a clear picture of what everyday life is like in Iran for the obvious reason that Iran has been isolated from the West for more than three decades. Still, windows open occasionally. A few years ago, Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning Best Foreign Language film, A Separation, offered Western eyes a glimpse of a middle-class Iranian marriage under stress.

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Arts & Life
4:38 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

What's Familiar Becomes Unnerving In 'It Follows'

It Follows "inverts the abstinence metaphor behind most teen horror flicks," says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
Courtesy of Radius-TWC

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

David Robert Mitchell's debut feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, was a gentle, evocative story of teens and summer crushes set in Detroit. Unthreatening, sweet in the way of Freaks and Geeks, and the coming-of-age stories of John Hughes, it embraced the confusion of adolescence with warmth and affection.

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Movies
5:11 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

'Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Stays True To Its Name

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 6:04 pm

Maggie Smith and Judi Dench reunite in Jaipur, India, for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which came to theaters Friday. Despite a stellar cast, the sequel to the surprise 2012 hit comedy, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is second best.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Movie Reviews
3:40 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Argentine Oscar Nominee 'Wild Tales' Lives Up To Its Title

Wild Tales is crammed with gallows humor, says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:13 pm

Argentina has been in the news lately for the bizarre circumstances surrounding the death of a special prosecutor. So perhaps it makes sense that the country's Oscar nominee for best foreign language film is called Relatos salvajes, Spanish for Wild Tales. The film is an anthology โ€” a collection of six separate and unrelated stories โ€” every one of which lives up to that title.

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Movie Reviews
2:31 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Love From A To Z โ€” And Back Again โ€” In 'The Last Five Years'

The finite romance in The Last Five Years is "haunting, bittersweet" says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
Courtesy of RADiUS

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 5:29 pm

Movie musicals used to be box-office poison, but lately they've found ways to sing to a wider crowd. The onscreen Les Miz did away with lip-synching, Annie went multi-cultural, Into the Woods belted out revisionist fairy-tales โ€” and combined, those three movies have taken in almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.

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