Bob Mondello 2010 i
Doby Photography/NPR
Bob Mondello 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Bob Mondello

Arts Critic

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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Director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy clearly intends the boarding school for the deaf as a stand-in for all the things that have gone wrong with Ukrainian society. Courtesy of Drafthouse Films hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Drafthouse Films

Greg (Thomas Mann) is jokey, mostly as a substitute for actual social interaction. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Actor David Gulpilil gives a genuinely wrenching performance in Charlie's Country Courtesy of Monument Releasing hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Monument Releasing

More than half of the top 10 box-office hits this year have centered on female characters, says NPR film critic Bob Mondello. But only a few — like Pitch Perfect 2 — were written or directed by women. Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures

Melissa McCarthy gets a star-vehicle movie of her own in Spy. Larry Horricks/ Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Larry Horricks/ Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Heaven Knows What stars Arielle Holmes and is based on her experience as a homeless heroin addict in New York City. Courtesy of Radius-TWC hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Radius-TWC

Julie Andrews starred as flower girl Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway premiere of My Fair Lady. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

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 hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Music Box Films

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 hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures