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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3:00pm

Mon May 30, 2011
Movies

Movie Industry Plans To Release Lots Of Sequels

The industry has faced a tough year so far. So it's using the formula of sequels and 3-D movies in hopes of getting back on track — including more pirates, more kung-fun fighting pandas and more hungover wedding guests. Critic Bob Mondello has a preview of the other retreads and the hidden treasures coming your way this summer.

8:38am

Sun May 15, 2011
Monkey See

Forget Bridezillas And Frenemies, 'Bridesmaids' Is The Real Deal

Kristen Wiig (left) breaks the tired mold of summer wedding comedies with Bridesmaids, where her character grapples with a rival (Rose Bryne) without the genre's typically inconceivable levels of earnestness.
Suzanne Hanover Universal Pictures

I blame it on My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That winsome little bridal blockbuster hit its stride in May of '02 and played straight through to Labor Day, establishing that 15-year-old boys weren't the only audience who'd go to summer films. Since then, wedding comedies have been a reliable -– and reliably annoying — hot-weather staple, almost always playing predominantly to women, with men attending dutifully as dates, much as they do at weddings themselves.

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5:29pm

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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10:02am

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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4:32pm

Fri April 15, 2011
Movies

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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