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 – a bit of a trick on radio – 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."

Pages

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

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Theater
4:05 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 — "The Rain In Spain," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "On the Street Where You Live" — but it turns out the show originally had other tunes that almost nobody knows.

Read more
Movie Reviews
1:56 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

A Film Critic Gets Meta (As Does Ours) In 'The Film Critic (El Crítico)'

The romance between Victor (Rafael Spregelburd) and Sophia (Dolores Fonzi) is a checklist of cliches that the titular character would hate.
Courtesy of Music Box Films

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 1:21 pm

A film critic doesn't often have to review movies about film critics — probably a good thing — but sometimes, as with Hernán Guerschuny's postmodern rom-com The Film Critic (El crítico), there's nothing to be done. That's also a good thing, as it turns out.

Read more
Movie Reviews
12:37 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 — yes, three --€” 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 — that's the general rule for this time of year, whether we're talking superheroes, supercharged cars, or romance — and in that context, the lush, overstuffed costume epic, Far From the Madding Crowd is a perfect fit.

Read more
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

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:34 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

A Tart Take On Bitter Realities In 'Tangerines'

Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) is a pacifist. But NPR film critic Bob Mondello says Tangerines is an "object lesson in the resilience of ancient animosities."
Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 9:05 pm

It's 1992, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in the Oscar-nominated Tangerines, and in a bleak, northwest corner of the Republic of Georgia called Abkhazia, the world has more or less come apart. Warring factions — Chechen separatists, Georgian troops — patrol rural roads in jeeps outfitted with bazookas and machine guns. The locals have mostly fled for more urban areas.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:13 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.

Read more
Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Photography, Misery And Beauty In 'The Salt Of The Earth'

"I could hear the gold whispering in the souls of these men," says Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado of a gold mine in Serra Pelada.
Sebastiao Salgado Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 7:07 pm

Having recently celebrated the accomplishments of musicians and dancers in his transcendent documentaries The Buena Vista Social Club and Pina, it perhaps makes sense that Wim Wenders would now turn his camera on a man who wields a camera.

Read more
Arts & Life
4:36 pm
Fri March 13, 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.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:44 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Tense 'Eastern Boys': Cruising, and Bruising

Eastern Boys begins as a home invasion story but evolves to something more complex, says NPR film critic Bob Mondello.
Courtesy of First Run Features

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 7:13 pm

Seen from street level, the young Eastern European men cruising a Paris train station at the outset of Eastern Boys would doubtless look like individuals. But filmmaker Robin Campillo has positioned the camera overhead, and from his bird's eye perch it's clear they're working in tandem — looking out for each other, stealing, soliciting.

Read more
Movies
3:58 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

The Good, The Bad And The Hot: Movies To Warm Winter's Bite

Sidney Poitier smolders — and swelters — in In the Heat of the Night.
Mirisch/United Artists/Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 2:18 pm

Plenty of movies sound as if they'll warm you up — Heat, The Towering Inferno, Hot Fuzz, Blazing Saddles, The Long Hot Summer, Paris When It Sizzles, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, In the Heat of the Night — the list goes on and on.

But just as you can't judge a book by its cover, it's tough to take a film's temperature from its title. Yes, In the Heat of the Night does swelter, both from being set in Mississippi and from having Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger spend most of its length hot under the collar. But most of the rest of those films won't warm you up much.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:16 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 — a collection of six separate and unrelated stories — every one of which lives up to that title.

Read more
Movie Reviews
12:57 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Love From A To Z — And Back Again — 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 — and combined, those three movies have taken in almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Read more
Movies
3:40 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

It'd Be No 'Folly' To Remake This Musical Classic

Bob Mondello brought in his own personal copy of the original Follies cast album — intern Patrick Fort added the starburst.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 7:47 am

Read more
Movies
4:14 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

'Birdman,' 'Grand Budapest Hotel' Lead Oscar Nominations

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 5:33 pm

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

Pages