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."



Thu July 28, 2011
Movie Reviews

A Frantic, Nonstop Chase At 'Point Blank' Range

En Pointe: Nurse-trainee Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is on the run for much of Point Blank, which finds him outmaneuvering (and eventually succumbing to) bad guys as a consequence of saving a mysterious man's life.
Magnolia Pictures

Mid-summer is a time when movie audiences crave action. And that's no truer of the multiplex than it is at the art house, where Point Blank, a new thriller from France (no relation to the Lee Marvin/John Boorman crime picture from 1967) opens — quite literally — with a bang. It's the crash of a man who, clutching his bleeding stomach, smashes through a door into the wall of a metal staircase. And it's followed by another crash seconds later, when two men with guns smash through the door after him.

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Tue July 19, 2011
Monkey See

DVD Picks: 'Boyz N The Hood'

Ice Cube's first-ever acting role was as troublemaker Doughboy in Boyz N The Hood. Bob Mondello says the film portrayed a side of L.A. that mainstream Hollywood was too afraid to show.
Sony Pictures

Time now for movie critic Bob Mondello to suggest something for viewing at home, rather than the multiplex. This week, the 20th anniversary release of a film that jump-started a lot of careers: Boyz N The Hood.

South Central L.A. On the map, so close to Hollywood. But in 1991, it might as well have been on the moon as far as movie studios were concerned.

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Thu July 14, 2011

Can Wizards And Vampires Collect Unemployment?

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, left) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) will soon discover that finding Horcruxes isn't half as demanding or soul-sucking as finding a job.
Warner Brothers

With employment numbers stuck in a rut and high school grads among those least likely to land jobs, along comes fresh competition. Do you have any idea how many wizards, werewolves and vampires are going to be out of work soon?

In a few months, Craigslist is going to have all kinds of eye-catching resumes:

SCHOOL ATHLETE (captain of Quidditch team) seeks entry-level position. No degree, but considerable leadership experience. Contact Harry James Potter.


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Fri July 8, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

From The Movies, Lessons On Privatizing Outer Space

Hollywood history is littered with cautionary tales about corporate takeovers of outer space, but in 2001: A Space Odyssey, things looked oddly familiar: Interstellar travelers flew Pan Am and stayed in Hilton hotels.

During the space race in the 1960s, only governments had deep enough pockets to send humans into orbit. Now, with many of the world's governments in hock up to their eyeballs and NASA's space shuttle going into retirement, commercial ventures are poised to pick up where the shuttle leaves off.

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Tue June 21, 2011
Monkey See

DVD Picks: 'Cedar Rapids'

Fox Searchlight

Time now for our home-viewing segment — movie critic Bob Mondello's recommendations for film buffs who like to pop their own popcorn and pop in a DVD. This week, he's touting Cedar Rapids, a comedy that was just in theaters a few weeks ago.

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