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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Movies
1:37 pm
Fri August 14, 2015

Discovering Movies, And How Visions Are Seldom All They Seem

A first movie, like Disney's Sleeping Beauty, can have a big impact on little kids. It might even turn them into movie reviewers one day.
Courtesy of The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri August 14, 2015 6:21 pm

Editor's Note: Hot weather is the time for popcorn pictures — escapist films that may have laughs or tears along the way, but that inevitably end happily. It's a formula that's served Hollywood well, and that's also served to make a lot of people into movie addicts, including our critic Bob Mondello. He now sees more than 300 movies a year — many of which do not have happy endings, and that suits him fine. But we asked him if he remembered his first trip to a movie theater. And he did.

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Movies
1:36 pm
Mon August 10, 2015

Movies To Make You Forget The Heat: A Summer Watchlist

Omar Sharif's Doctor Zhivago didn't need any help chilling out.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon August 10, 2015 7:36 pm

I remember a blue and white sign that used to tempt me every summer when I was a kid. It dangled from the marquee of our neighborhood movie theater: Painted penguins and three irresistible, snow-covered words, "It's cool inside."

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NPR Ed
3:45 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

The Play's The Thing — High School Productions Down The Decades

LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 10:21 am

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Fine Art
4:50 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Find Unforgettable Art In A Most Unlikely Place: A Pittsburgh Mattress Factory

Chiharu Shiota takes over an entire townhouse for her 2013 work Trace of Memory. It's one of the many unusual installations at The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.
Courtesy of The Mattress Factory

Originally published on Fri July 24, 2015 4:09 pm

The Mattress Factory hasn't been an actual mattress factory for a while now. Built on a hillside in the Central Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, back at the turn of the last century, it was used as a warehouse and showroom for Stearns & Foster until the 1960s.

Today, it's one of the country's more unusual art museums. Filled not with paintings or sculptures — and certainly not with mattresses — it is now, four stories of ... well, of "stories" in a way. Installations that take you places you don't expect to go in an art museum.

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Movie Reviews
4:39 pm
Fri July 17, 2015

Sleuthing With Offbeat Variations In 'Irrational Man' And 'Mr. Holmes'

Irrational Man is a Hitchcock-style mystery wrapped in a Woody Allen romance.
Sabrina Lantos Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Mon July 20, 2015 10:03 pm

I'm gonna guess that in pitch meetings, and maybe even in script form, Woody Allen's Irrational Man and Bill Condon's Mr. Holmes looked a lot like police procedurals.

Happily their directors didn't leave them on the page, so they've warped into something a little different: A mystery of memory and the aging mind in the case of Mr. Holmes, a romance in the Hitchcock tradition for Irrational Man.

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