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."

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4:30pm

Wed August 13, 2014
Remembrances

The Countless Lives Of Lauren Bacall

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 9:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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5:53pm

Tue August 12, 2014
Remembrances

A Farewell To Robin Williams, Whose Antics Never Hid The Tenderness Beneath

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 9:45 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: He talked faster than the rest of us, he thought faster than the rest of us and now he has lived faster than the rest of. But, oh, the lives while he was with us.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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3:41pm

Fri August 8, 2014
Movie Reviews

The Shaggy Story Of A Real-Life 'Dog'

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 9:24 am

In 1972, John Wojtowicz robbed a bank to pay for his lover Ernie's sex-reassignment surgery. The robbery and his subsequent imprisonment inspired the movie Dog Day Afternoon.
Seed & Spark

A Brooklyn bank, a sweltering crowd, swelling cheers as Al Pacino's charismatic bank robber baits the police with chants of "Attica. Attica. Attica. Attica."

That scene, along with the rest of Sidney Lumet's 1975 classic Dog Day Afternoon, was based on a true story. Now, an odd — and oddly compelling — documentary called The Dog brings us the story behind that true story, and if you're anything like me, it'll leave you alternately amused and slack-jawed in astonishment.

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7:08am

Fri August 8, 2014
Book Reviews

'Joss Whedon': Biography Of A 'Shiny' Geek King

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 4:04 pm

Published in Britain as Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe and in the U.S. less cheekily as Joss Whedon: The Biography, Amy Pascale's portrait of pop culture's man of just about any recent hour may not make her title subject any new converts, but it is hero-worshipping enough to make devoted Whedonites feel they're being inducted into the Scooby Gang.

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2:55pm

Fri August 1, 2014
Movie Reviews

No Forgiveness, But A Kind Of Cinematic Grace In 'Calvary'

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 4:07 pm

Brendan Gleeson, as tough-minded Father James, faces a death threat from an angry parishioner in the darkly comic new Calvary.
Reprisal Films

Ireland's barrel-chested force of nature Brendan Gleeson plays a priest who has a date with murder in Calvary, John Michael McDonagh's comic but darkly existential detective story.

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4:08pm

Wed July 30, 2014
Men In America

Who's The Man? Hollywood Heroes Defined Masculinity For Millions

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 7:55 am

John Wayne — seen here in 1956's The Searchers — was an icon of traditional Hollywood manliness.
AP/Warner Bros.

Tony Curtis used to say that he'd learned how to kiss a girl by watching Cary Grant at the movies. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn't just sitting behind Grant at the theater — while also noting that he's hardly alone in taking instruction from films.

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12:41pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Movies

How To Name Your Sequel II: Not Just Roman Numerals Anymore

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:53 am

If you want to move beyond just numbers for your sequel titles, critic Bob Mondello says there are a few informal rules you need to follow.

Remember when movie companies just put Roman numerals at the end of titles when they made sequels? Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV. Well, not anymore.

This summer, we've had X-Men: Days of Future Past, with no mention that it's either the sixth or seventh X-Men movie, depending on how you're counting. Also 22 Jump Street, the across-the-street follow-up to 21 Jump Street. And Begin Again (which ought to be a sequel, but isn't).

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4:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
Book Your Trip

By Trolley, Train, Show Boat Or Surrey, These Musicals Will Move You

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 10:06 am

Barbra Streisand does a lot of singing on transit — over the course of Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Yentl and Hello Dolly (above) she sings aboard a train, a plane, a taxi a tugboat, and an ocean liner.
20th Century Fox/Chenault/The Kobal Collection

2:38pm

Fri July 11, 2014
Movie Reviews

Oh, 'Boyhood!' Linklater's Cinematic Stunt Pays Off

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 11:50 am

Ellar Coltrane — pictured here with screen family Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater — grows from boy to man on-screen in Richard Linklater's new Boyhood.
IFC Productions

Filmmaker Richard Linklater breezed through plenty of genres in his career, establishing that he's comfortable making loose comedies like Slacker, animated sci-fi thrillers like A Scanner Darkly, and even messing with longer-form studies in time with his Before trilogy, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise and Before Midnight.

Still, it's safe to say that he's never done anything even remotely like Boyhood, his latest film, because neither has anyone else.

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5:14pm

Wed July 2, 2014
Movie Reviews

Sci-Fi Kid Flick 'Earth To Echo' Broadens The 'E.T.' Formula

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:20 pm

In Earth to Echo, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Ella Wahlestedt, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm play a group of kids whose neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project, forcing their families to move.
Patrick Wymore Relativity Media

Movie theaters were swarming with Transformers this past weekend, and that'll also be true over the July 4 weekend. So this may not seem to be the best moment to bring out a sci-fi flick made on a budget that wouldn't cover catering for Optimus Prime. But "small" has its virtues sometimes, and the kid flick Earth to Echo is one of those times.

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