Richard von Busack

Richard von Busack
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Born in Los Angeles, von Busack attended school at UC Santa Cruz and went on to be the lead film critic at Metro Newspapers, the Silicon Valley-based chain of weeklies.
Favorites:
This year it was: Late Marriage, Spider-Man, World Traveller, Y Tu Mama Tambien...
Location: East of the San Francisco Bay

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
25% The Goldfinch (2019) Mostly the film copies Dickens' approach to mysterious bequests, lifelong guilt and sudden reversals of fortune, in a sprawling tale that [director] John Crowley keeps engrossing, but never completely convincing. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2019
63% It Chapter Two (2019) What should feel like a slowly gathering evil that one cannot forestall arrives with the inevitability of a mandatory sequel. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2019
43% After the Wedding (2019) After the Wedding defeats Moore, yet she gives this stodgy adoption-melodrama a good fight, with sudden surprising moves and pivots. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 5, 2019
99% Honeyland (2019) Hatidze trusted the filmmakers. Perhaps she was unclear on the concept of what movies are, living as she does in a stone-floored house without electricity or plumbing. And Kotevska and Stefanov honored Hatidze. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2019
86% The Nightingale (2019) The problem with so many of these films is their insistence on graphic depictions of sexual violence -- as if viewers couldn't possibly imagine being overpowered and taken by force. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019
95% The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) It is a bit gooshy, with a baptism by a profane junkyard reverend and a magical realist moment of triumph. Still, the Outer Banks waterscapes make The Peanut Butter Falcon funky and appealingly summery. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 15, 2019
79% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) The cast are far more than the usual cyphers fed to the meat grinder, and there is a sense of loss in almost every supernatural attack. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 15, 2019
99% The Farewell (2019) Shao is a heartening grandma with a lot of salt to her... She's a figure anyone would love and grieve for, but it's Awkwafina as a young woman feeling like a stranger in both the East and the West, who keeps this story tantalizingly tense - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2019
87% The Great Hack (2019) I urge all to watch The Great Hack, and beware. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2019
87% The Great Hack (2019) I urge all to watch The Great Hack, and beware. - East Bay Express EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
No Score Yet Dave Attell: Captain Miserable (2007) Attell, a balding pudge with skeevy beard and friendly dark eyes, combines deeply pervy and palsy-walsy qualities in a way not seen since Telly Savalas went to that big casino in the sky. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) One feels less like reviewing Once Upon A Time in... Hollywood, and more like writing Quentin Tarantino a letter that begins, "Thank you for retrieving my lost city." - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 1, 2019
93% Sword of Trust (2019) A harmonious blend of mumblecore and screwball, Lynn Shelton's Sword of Trust touches both poles: nowheresville cinema-of-disappointment meets millionaire ex machina. Despite the ambling pace, here is the self-deception of frantic 1940s comedy. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 26, 2019
98% Maiden (2019) Stirring as Maiden is, it lacks all the Melvilleian tidbits that make for a detailed picture of a sea voyage. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 26, 2019
91% The Biggest Little Farm (2019) Chester's film induces a rare tranquility with its rapturous images of wild creatures... The search for balance gives this film tension, and it's gratifying to see the old ways working. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 18, 2019
96% Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2019) Digging in the style of an investigative reporter, Green creates a portrait of this pioneer in both her highly-paid success and later unhappiness... Happily, Green's intrepid research restores Guy-Blache to her rightful place in cinema history. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 11, 2019
93% The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) A beautifully made study of disillusionment and urban dispossession. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 11, 2019
58% Ophelia (2019) Without the dialogue, Hamlet is melodrama. You sort of ache to hear the actual lines instead of these Shakespeare for Dummies summaries. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
64% Child's Play (2019) The ghastliness isn't even vivid enough to be worrisome. We viewers are not impressionable blank slates like poor Chucky. Besides, current events tend to put one in the mood for a violent puppet show. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
97% Toy Story 4 (2019) Toy Story 4 has the wings and claws of a great melodrama. Nobody today can drill into childhood trauma like Pixar. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
54% The Dead Don't Die (2019) The tone is like a New Yorker cartoon mocking a particularly bloody Goya painting; it's too cozy to be grisly. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
32% Shaft (2019) This catastrophic reboot insists that we won't know NYC detective John Shaft is a bad M.F. unless he talks about his magnum every six seconds. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 13, 2019
41% Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) The actual battles are highly satisfactory, even if no one gets to shout, "Destroy all monsters!" - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
71% All Is True (2019) It's uneven but worthy work, with Branagh believable and vinegary as a man making amends. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
89% Rocketman (2019) Director Dexter Fletcher... bills this as a "true fantasy." The fiction may be upfront -- composite characters cannot sue -- but it's awfully familiar. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
58% Charlie Says (2019) Harron's film gets the milieu, the angle and the details right. To properly tell the story of the Manson gang, one needs a certain fellow feeling for the hippies. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
31% Red Joan (2019) It's too easy to say Dench is this film's only redeeming value, yet it's too difficult to try to find other good points about this stodgy romance. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) Avengers: Endgame didn't seem a moment too long, and there wasn't an awkward performance among its cast. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
83% High Life (2019) High Life has poetry, but it's awkward. After a long and distinguished career, this is Denis' first movie in English. Is there any reason, beyond increased ticket sales, that a director would cut off her tongue at age 70? - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
65% Peterloo (2019) The epic is kept at a distance throughout, from the continual stand-and-deliver speechifying to the oddly unfeeling way the reporter confers over the shambles... Peterloo addresses us as if we were a public meeting. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
91% Shazam! (2019) Mostly satisfying, often juvenile, Shazam! is a Christmas-in-Easter superhero origin story.... Ultimately, one wishes there had been more bounce and less grit. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
46% Mary Magdalene (2019) Phoenix's sensitivity overwhelms the callouses one has against the Greatest Story Ever etc... Against this mysterious poignancy, Mara seems a bit lost and underpowered. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
58% The Hummingbird Project (2019) We can count on an audience that likes to watch people work, an audience that will admire fast-talking hustlers, no matter what their grift. But eventually Nguyen plays softball with the conniving characters. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 4, 2019
47% Dumbo (2019) This film isn't Burton's worst, but it plays more like Spielberg doing kid-fodder with the help of Burton as production designer. The movie is a white elephant. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
93% Us (2019) Home invasion terror isn't always elegant, but it's always effective. Peele is a genial shocker. Unlike most doorbusters, these hell creatures aren't interested in sex. Comic relief settles in between never-too-horrible mayhem. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2019
44% Captive State (2019) The top-notch, poorly titled Captive State by Rupert Wyatt of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the first feature film to acutely deliver the mood of fear in the Trump era. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
78% Captain Marvel (2019) Despite some starchy Louisiana heartland sequences, this is an effective fantasy of power used with grace and without arrogance. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
60% Greta (2019) Like the Chopin and Liszt performed during the course of Greta, the film is well-played, invigorating, full of sentimental associations and a bit overfamiliar. When the end game arrives, it's a satisfactory homage to a more genteel age of thrills. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2019
88% To Dust (2019) A comedy like this functions or fails depending on the way the pair get and stay together; Broderick and Rohrig have a harmony in their matched styles in forlornness. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2019
66% Suspiria (2018) The wit of David Kajganich's script is that organized religion, even the satanic Old Religion, is just politics by other means. Suspiria takes The Red Shoes or Black Swan to the next level of horror. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
100% They Shall Not Grow Old (2019) This film is an achievement, but one feels that something is lost in translation, and it's because of the narration... It's invaluable but has little immediacy -- a strangely placid look at something that happened so long ago. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
79% Fyre Fraud (2019) Fyre Fraud convincingly identifies the fraud-fest as just one more chimera of modern times, a 24-hour game of "let's pretend," in which one cannot tell if someone is a delusional liar or the smartest person in the room. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
91% Fyre (2019) It doesn't question the necessity of the fest. The Fyre Festival didn't work, but wouldn't it have been insanely cool if it had?... Thus, the Netflix doc may be a stepping stone to the inevitable exculpatory whitewashing feature film. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
No Score Yet Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration (2019) Shows both the range of her music and the affection that the world of music has for her. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2019
93% Stan & Ollie (2019) J‌on S. Baird's biopic Stan & Ollie has a certain inflationary quality, regarding the appeal of a comedy team in their sunset years. But in lovingly recreating Laurel and Hardy's mid-1950s tour of Britain, it's a film with lots of charm. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2019
92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) Cold War has the heart of an epic, a smart one, burrowing into its settings, and describing the bitter flavor of two different brands of moral crumble. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) James and Layne emote the kind of pure ethereal love that was there at the beginning of the movies and will be there at the end of them. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
67% Vice (2018) Misanthropy rarely gets this unfunny. Here, even Cheney's sullen wiliness looks uninspired. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
65% Aquaman (2018) James Wan's Aquaman has way too much going on. It's all three Lord of the Rings underwater, with a grand finale giant fish war that's like the largest tureen of bouillabaisse ever cooked. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) In college they warn you against the kind of history where things had to happen because they happened the way they happened. Thus we miss the question of what kind of plotting Mary had been up to -- real or imaginary. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018