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
98% 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
52% 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
31% 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
40% 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
54% 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
64% 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
45% 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
57% 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
94% 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
46% 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
78% 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
90% 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
66% 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
53% Across the Universe (2007) What a bloody mess. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
96% Roma (2018) Roma, the film of the year, is an exquisitely tender work, and a deeply layered historical re-creation. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) It runs long but it never fails to impress with its confidence, its angles, its sensational color and its sense of bringing animation into a new century. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) Dafoe is very pure here. The rawboned face hides nothing, showing lucidity even in the torment of his madness. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
78% Green Book (2018) It's excerpt-ready for the Oscars, with the little blocks of conflict quickly precipitated and solved in a fast minute. The self-congratulation is thick. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
93% The Favourite (2018) The bluntness in Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara's screenplay isn't wit. The script defeats the actors. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
69% Beautiful Boy (2018) The eclectic soundtrack (everything from the hippie-days prog band Pavlov's Dog to Gorecki) adds to the movie's formlessness rather than defining it. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2018
88% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) The highly witty original was about learning and appreciating the groove you're in; the sequel seems stuck in it. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 26, 2018
91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) The Coen brothers' new anthology film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, portrays the frontier as a place of death so sudden and terrible that the word "ironic" is too fancy for it. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
90% Prospect (2018) Thatcher is a strong, resolute heroine, and this is an impressive debut, both solid and atmospheric. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) If the Coens' Hail, Caesar! seemed like inside baseball, this savage assault on the milk-drinking cowboys of yesterday delves even deeper into semi-forgotten movies. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
40% The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) Alvarez escapes the doleful and unbelievable realism of the series to date, and makes it fun... This Lisbeth is just one mask and two pointed ears away from being Catwoman. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
82% The Other Side of the Wind (2018) In this evocative satirical drama, Welles demonstrates a last magic act. He was still ahead of his time even at the end of his career. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Ornery and salty as the film is, it has a cool counterpoint of loneliness to it. And it shows how lost even the recent past is. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
79% Halloween (2018) Halloween isn't scary, but like the film that started it, it's moody. What does survive is the malice endemic to the genre. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
91% Mandy (2018) Mandy tries and sometimes succeeds to be the kind of movie you should only see after midnight, but a slow pace is fatal to grindhouse. The changes of emphasis and time that are so fearfully disorienting in Lynch are more like dead air here. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2018
87% First Man (2018) First Man isn't a session of hero worship, but it does help one understand the otherness of Neil Armstrong, the seeming nervelessness that still exemplifies bravery in this age of scoundrels. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2018
41% Hell Fest (2018) Honoring the knife-wielding maniac multiplex fodder of the 1980s, this mostly scare-free thriller lets you admire the hard work of the art directors and designers. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018
89% A Star Is Born (2018) This A Star Is Born is like movie night at the rehab clinic: all the shame of drunkenness and none of the elation. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018