Richard von Busack

Richard von Busack

""This case has a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what have yous"--Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski "Dunk your whiskers in this."--William Demarest, feeding a snake in The Lady Eve Those are two favorites--Preston Sturges' films are probably the most quotable of them all. As for film reviews: "The sisters aren't just doing it for themselves, they're doing it to themselves"--Pauline Kael on the movie Beaches "The film I Walk Alone should, like three or four other pictures, walk alone, tinkling a little bell and shouting "Unclean!" (This quote's only funny if you know about the medieval custom of making lepers announcing their presence whenever in a town. David Thomson on the ending of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and its punchline. "No sirt! This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Thomson's response: "Adherence to the legend at the expense of facts will ruin America--the work is well under way. And lovers of the movies should consider how far film has helped the undermining.""

Agrees with the Tomatometer 68% of the time.

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.
This year it was: Late Marriage, Spider-Man, World Traveller, Y Tu Mama Tambien...
Critics' Group:
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Total Reviews:
Total QuickRatings:
East of the San Francisco Bay

Listing Of All Reviews & Articles

Showing 1 - 50 of 87
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Rating T-Meter Title | Year Add Date
3/5 29% The Last Of Robin Hood (2014) " Straightjacketed by copyrights and a low budget...but with Christine Vachon as producer and Todd Haynes as exec producer, this movie honors melodrama as a method for broadening minds about forbidden love." — MetroActive
Posted Sep 4, 2014
4/5 80% Little Children (2006) " Playing up her sturdiness, her furry dark brows and the wiry unruliness of her old-gold hair, Winslet is the best Emma Bovary I've seen-even if she's named Sarah, not Emma. " — MetroActive
Posted Sep 2, 2014
3.5/5 36% The November Man (2014) " Brosnan is past 60; his director Roger Donaldson is just shy of 70. If you'd like to see a movie about the limitations of being young and inexperienced, this is it." — MetroActive
Posted Aug 28, 2014
88% Inglourious Basterds (2009) " Inglourious Basterds is almost as deliriously entertaining as a remixed Hitler tantrum." — MetroActive
Posted Aug 23, 2014
3.5/5 89% World's Greatest Dad (2009) " Here, Williams has a chance to do some of the most integral, gentle and praiseworthy acting of his career. " — MetroActive
Posted Aug 11, 2014
2/5 49% Magic in the Moonlight (2014) " You never know where Allen's mind is with this comedy. He's rarely seemed so distracted. For some reason, this piffle turns out to have a ponderous undercarriage. " — MetroActive
Posted Aug 5, 2014
3.5/5 92% Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) " Far more lively than anything in the last three Star Wars; it's far closer in the constellation to the jokey heroism of Joss Whedon's Serenity than George Lucas's New Age sky-piloting. " — MetroActive
Posted Aug 5, 2014
97% Notorious (1946) " Notorious is in the world of film noir but not of it; it's a tough and dark film that's also one of the finest women's pictures ever made." — MetroActive
Posted Aug 5, 2014
4/5 78% Get On Up (2014) " Get On Up revels in the energy of James Brown, as played with intense concentration and excitement by Chadwick Boseman. " — MetroActive
Posted Jul 31, 2014
4.5/5 99% Boyhood (2014) " Boyhood proves we're never the same people that we were when we were children. And it also proves what the old people always sighed about: "They grow up so fast." " — MetroActive
Posted Jul 24, 2014
3.5/5 92% Venus in Fur (2014) " Venus in Fur isn't quite as demented as Polanski's earlier comedies, but it's an invigorating walk through the maze of fantasy-in a realm where 50 Shades of Gray is wreaking havoc, it has relevance, and brains." — MetroActive
Posted Jul 16, 2014
3/5 97% Life Itself (2014) " Sometimes a plodder, he was never a phony. The eminent critic Cyril Connolly wrote that the phrase "I read you but I don't agree with you" is a politer way of saying "I know you but I don't like you." It'd be hard not to like Ebert after seeing this. " — MetroActive
Posted Jul 16, 2014
2.5/5 24% Tammy (2014) " There's much to encourage here, anyway. Tammy is likely to be Bechdel Test champ of the year, and Sarandon is pretty much priceless as the out of control, Oxycontin-popping gran. " — MetroActive
Posted Jul 2, 2014
3/5 53% Jersey Boys (2014) " Beyond the Jersey metaphysics, there's something deep and tangy and downbeat here, countering the hysterical ebullience of the tunes. At heart, it's a musical about overwork and debt. " — MetroActive
Posted Jun 25, 2014
3/5 53% Citizen Koch (2014) " Deal and Lessin's documentary isn't an anatomy of the so-called Kochtopus, nor is it a study of the Koch's business empire. A better title for this documentary might be "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Wisconsin." " — MetroActive
Posted Jun 25, 2014
2/5 66% The Rover (2014) " Ridiculously stark. " — MetroActive
Posted Jun 19, 2014
4/5 97% We Are the Best! (2014) " Director Moodysson revels in the way his young cast alternate between being children and adults, back and forth like a lenticular image. The film is irresistible--conveying the pleasures of being a spiky nuisance in a maddeningly calm society. " — MetroActive
Posted Jun 17, 2014
4/5 86% Cold in July (2014) " Cold in July is not deep, but it's built, and all around it looks like it was made by artisans who knew what they were doing." — MetroActive
Posted Jun 4, 2014
3.5/5 33% A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) " The comic relief never wears out the dramatic relief, and vice versa. It is low. Come for the sheep whizzing in MacFarlane's face-we're even now for "We Saw Your Boobs." Stay to see Theron handling a battering husband rather aesthetically. " — MetroActive
Posted Jun 4, 2014
1.5/5 68% Closer (2004) " The heart isn't a fist any more than the hand is a foot, and anyway there's no fist so tight that doesn't unfold into an open hand sometime. The movie is like a comedy someone dipped in a solvent." — MetroActive
Posted Jun 4, 2014
2/5 88% Chef (2014) " On one level, harmless food porn. On another, a rant about an artist (Jon Favreau) who gets slammed by the Internet. A movie that looks like an indie, is packaged like an indie, but which is a softball televisionistic feel-good whine." — MetroActive
Posted May 21, 2014
2.5/5 73% Godzilla (2014) " Solemn and too cautionary to get much pleasure from inundating or bulldozing tourist wonderlands. The giant reptile has convincing density and rage...a warning against mankind's foolish presumption that CG is better than the best miniature work." — MetroActive
Posted May 14, 2014
3/5 72% Palo Alto (2014) " The drawback is the usual one: a standard young-adult novel view of adults as predatory, clueless, patronizing, grotesque...yet the director evokes that terrible time of waiting around, locked out of childhood and adulthood alike. " — MetroActive
Posted May 14, 2014
3.5/5 73% Neighbors (2014) " Animal House is considered a classic for a dozen or so routines, but there's more vigor and force here-Neighbors may be the ultimate frat-house comedy." — MetroActive
Posted May 9, 2014
2/5 53% The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) " The action sequences were thought out, anyway.Director Marc Webb was likely hoping for something as off the cuff as the banter between Tony and Pepper in the Iron Man films for the film's romance. It doesn't work. When Peter isn't blocked, he's babbling." — MetroActive
Posted Apr 30, 2014
4/5 85% Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) " An ultimately enrapturing love story, set on the border of gentility and decadence...Even before the fangs show in the half-smiles, the movie luxuriates in the charm of good-looking actors doing very little. This is Jarmusch's warmest work" — MetroActive
Posted Apr 24, 2014
3/5 83% On My Way (2014) " It's a playful, loose film with no queening allowed. " — MetroActive
Posted Apr 24, 2014
1.5/5 19% Transcendence (2014) " Pretty damned bad, and another example of 2014 CG used to animate 1974's science fiction ideas. " — MetroActive
Posted Apr 16, 2014
4/5 89% Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) " The people who made Captain America: The Winter Soldier, including the directors Anthony and Joe Russo, understood their calmly uncomplicated hero better than the people who made Man of Steel understood the similarly square Superman. " — MetroActive
Posted Apr 2, 2014
2.5/5 62% Young Adam (2004) " Watching this film, one gets the sense of a once-arresting book that couldn't get arrested today. " — MetroActive
Posted Mar 27, 2014
2.5/5 41% Cesar Chavez (2014) " After two rousing acts of the rise of the workers, the movie starts to go a little haywire. There's no good visual way in a movie to make a hunger strike look anything but petulant and passive-aggressive." — MetroActive
Posted Mar 27, 2014
3.5/5 92% The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) " Mostly delightful. It can give you the foreboding you feel when encountering the word "artisanal," but otherwise this nested story of Central European skullduggery seems to have more of a spine than anything he's made since Fantastic Mr. Fox. " — MetroActive
Posted Mar 12, 2014
***1/2 99% Gloria (2014) " See it now, and see it before the inevitable insufferable American remake." — MetroActive
Posted Feb 26, 2014
*** 89% Tim's Vermeer (2014) " It honors the labor of an artist as well as the inspiration that can't be copied even in an age of mechanical reproduction. " — MetroActive
Posted Feb 26, 2014
75% Ransom (1996) " Ron Howard leads the film dispassionately and unimaginatively, with too much faith in the merits of the talky script, although Ransom almost has a subject for a moment, flashing a little class conflict just like actresses used to flash a little stocking." — MetroActive
Posted Jan 22, 2014
3/5 76% The Invisible Woman (2013) " Fiennes' Dickens has blood in him: if it's cold blood, it's still blood. There's enough going on in The Invisible Woman to demonstrate that Fiennes isn't just an actor to admire, but a director to watch. " — MetroActive
Posted Jan 15, 2014
4.5/5 93% The Past (2013) " A morally complex mystery, without a detective to stand outside the drama and identify the one truly guilty party. " — MetroActive
Posted Jan 10, 2014
2/5 77% The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) " Jordan Belfort has just made a distinguished director his latest mark. We sat through Scorsese's Tibetan Buddhist stage for this?" — MetroActive
Posted Dec 23, 2013
*** 93% American Hustle (2013) " Fast and loose but it could be fast and looser. Through voice-over, withheld info, shaggy dog stories and flywheel-spinning actor's exercises, Russell keeps yanking the plot back like a balloon salesman grabbing fleeing merchandise." — MetroActive
Posted Dec 18, 2013
****1/2 94% Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) " Inside Llewyn Davis isn't cuddly, but it's loaded with soul. And it's one memorably harrowing look at an artist pushed to the point of oblivion by scorn, misfortune and the iron hand of the market. " — MetroActive
Posted Dec 18, 2013
86% Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale) (2008) " A Christmas Tale's more universal qualities should be apparent to anyone who has survived a Christmas, and God help us, here comes another one." — MetroActive
Posted Dec 6, 2013
4.5/5 97% Gravity (2013) " Shockingly exciting." — MetroActive
Posted Oct 3, 2013
5/5 75% The Grandmaster (2013) " One of the best films of 2013. Wong is a Chinese director who sees China as exotic: he presents the 1930s Paramount version of China, with orchids, opium, crimson lipstick and satin he is by the dangerous Hong Kong of the early 1950s" — MetroActive
Posted Aug 28, 2013
4/5 89% The World's End (2013) " It has resonance-the violence and destruction addresses the questions that bedevil every maudlin old drinker. Why is every town getting to look the same? Why do formerly fun-loving friends become dour middle-aged middle-managers?" — MetroActive
Posted Aug 23, 2013
2/5 95% The Act Of Killing (2013) " These bizarre images distract from the question at the center of the film: whether it was film-watching itself that carried the seed of all this cruelty. " — MetroActive
Posted Aug 14, 2013
3.5 91% Blue Jasmine (2013) " Jasmine is rich material for Blanchett...but then there's the dull compliments Allen's characters pay the city: "It's so Mediterranean," they exclaim. "If you can't fall in love here, you can't fall in love anywhere." " — MetroActive
Posted Aug 1, 2013
2.5 85% The Way Way Back (2013) " A puzzling mix of Meatballs and '70s loco parentis drama, with authentic loco parents." — MetroActive
Posted Jul 28, 2013
4/5 93% Fruitvale Station (2013) " As Grant, Michael B. Jordan's stunning good looks and immaculately restrained acting affects even those who don't want to be manipulated-who want to watch this story with unfogged eyes. " — MetroActive
Posted Jul 28, 2013
3/5 21% Girl Most Likely (2013) " An odd, slightly off movie that's bound to be mistaken for a bad one, Girl Most Likely is a showcase for the superb comic talents of Kristen Wiig." — MetroActive
Posted Jul 20, 2013
4/5 stars 90% Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2013) " The splendid feats and dazzling card magic direct our attention away from the inner life of a large, glowering and cryptic figure. You learn a lot from Jay, and yet he keeps his mystique." — MetroActive
Posted Jul 18, 2013
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