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."



Wed May 11, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Hesher': A Metalhead Mary Poppins, Tattoos And All

He did in fact start the fire: Hesher doesn't give him much of a springboard, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt still draws an intriguing portrait of a sociopathic headbanger who bonds with a grieving middle-schooler.
Merrick Morton Wrekin Hill

When parents talk about someone who'd be a bad influence for their children, they're basically talking about Hesher.

This twentysomething vagrant, played as a anarchic, overgrown wild-child by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, wears his hair long and greasy. He's got a middle-finger tattoo in the small of his back, and he exhibits a pronounced fondness for drugs, pornography and blowing things up.

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Thu April 28, 2011
Monkey See

DVD Picks: 'The Ernie Kovacs Collection'

It's time for our home-video feature: Bob Mondello's viewing tips for those who prefer to skip the crowds at the cineplex. This week, he's championing a boxed that spotlights a TV pioneer: 'The Ernie Kovacs Collection.'

In 1951, almost no one had a TV yet, but anyone who did would've been surprised by what Ernie Kovacs was doing on it. Giving instructions, for instance, on how to tune a TV.

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Fri April 15, 2011

Control Flicks: Movies That Mess With Your Mind

Four times in eight months, I've been caught up in science-fiction worlds that seem remarkably like the world I actually live in — urban, brightly lit, not filled with aliens, zombies or futuristic gadgets. Just a lot of people with control issues.

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Thu April 14, 2011
Monkey See

DVD Picks: 'Tracy & Hepburn'

It's time now for critic Bob Mondello's suggestions for your home-video queue. This week, he's talking-up a decades-long love affair that is fully documented in a new boxed set: Tracy & Hepburn, The Definitive Collection.

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Fri April 8, 2011
Monkey See

A History Of Hollywood's 'Lovable Drunk': Arthur Doesn't Booze Here Anymore

The notion of a "loveable drunk" was always problematic, at least to people who've come into contact with actual drunks. But the way Dudley Moore played the original Arthur, the character seemed aware that he was a mess from the very first scene.

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