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
90% Some Kind of Heaven (2021) The absolutely remarkable documentary Some Kind of Heaven was produced by (among others) Darren Aronofsky and the actress Lindsay Crouse. There may not be anything quite like it since Errol Morris started out. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2021
50% The Midnight Sky (2020) The problem with this film is that it is terminally serious. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2021
96% Soul (2020) This is one of Pixar's deepest and most melancholy animated comedies. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2020
88% Kingdom of Silence (2020) Khashoggi was a sometimes slippery man. Yet he was inarguably brave: "You are in a war, you cannot give up, you cannot disappear." His steadfastness shames our government tactics to go along and get along. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
99% Collective (Colectiv) (2020) Collective reflects the muckraking qualities of the much-missed Romanian new wave; it picks up where 2005's The Death of Mr. Lazarsecu ended, that fictional story of a dying old man shifted from one overbooked and uncaring Bucharest hospital to another. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
28% Vanguard (2020) The old master shares the screen with young talent - but something is missing. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2020
79% Greyhound (2020) The depth Hanks brings to this almost eclipses the adventure, but mostly, Greyhound is a ripping yarn. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
88% You Don't Nomi (2020) Jeffrey McHale's entertaining documentary You Don't Nomi shows that the now 25 year old Showgirls is guilty of all charges. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
100% You Never Had It: An Evening With Bukowski (2020) Bukowski was a figure made for cinema. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
100% Apocalypse '45 (2020) The fights are clearer here, in color, and just as dramatic as ever. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
82% Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) While this isn't as smooth or as funny a 90-minute romp as the last one, it has a bit more depth. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
100% Public Trust (2020) Public Trust is as full of well-photographed environmental rapture as a Disney nature film. But it has far more of a point, and much more of a reason to exist. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
100% White Riot (2019) It's encouraging to see [Red] Saunders]... still around, demonstrating the long-lasting power of a really good idea. - SF Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
92% Licensed to Kill (1998) Licensed to Kill is a real achievement, especially since Dong didn't lose his perspective -- he hates the crime, but not the criminals, and he pins the blame where it belongs. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2020
43% Committed (2000) Committed isn't [Heather] Graham's fault. If, for the first time on screen, she's charmless and annoying, it's better to pin the fault on director/writer Lisa Krueger, whose simplistic moralizing keeps Committed a dull, trying experience. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 30, 2020
88% Onward (2020) The reliably appealing Onward is a study of sibling love... If the gags aren't always sublime, the observations are tender. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2020
100% Overwhelm the Sky (2018) Sometimes frustrating, and often genuinely frightening, Overwhelm the Sky proves Kremer is a talent to watch. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2020
98% Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) (2020) On the whole, director Céline Sciamma masters the waxing and waning of moods... [But] one takes away Heloise's tousled hair and rich, satiated half-smile, and tends to overlook Sciamma's trouble settling on an ending. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2020
7% Fantasy Island (2020) It wanders in all directions, it takes a great deal of desperate writing to twist around and explain who's the actual bad guy, and the production design and costuming is disappointing. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 19, 2020
78% Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Call it upcycled, repurposed or just plain ripped-off, but it's made out of familiar and gaudy stuff. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2020
75% The Gentlemen (2020) Ritchie's problem is that he has about a pint of movie sloshing around in a gallon jug. All the sidebars and word-bandying among the all-male cast don't expand upon this story satisfactorily. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2020
95% 2020 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2020) Get out your handkerchiefs, because rich tales of sadness constitute this year's selection of Oscar-nominated animated shorts. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
72% The Aeronauts (2019) The Aeronauts does what movies used to do; telling us fictions to remind us to be brave and persistent. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2020
89% 1917 (2020) It's a movie on steroids, cooking up incidents when the truth is bad enough... [But] I succumbed to this thrilling, compelling film. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2020
20% Cats (2019) The film is a triple-decker weirdburger from the twitching ears to the too-long tails that make the ensemble look like lemurs. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2020
92% Uncut Gems (2019) The Safdies have talent, and if they'd cut this uncut gem they'd get closer to the work they're emulating. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2020
51% Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) This was once a series that did things that no other movie franchise could; the best thing you can say about it now is that it's finally wrapped up. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 26, 2019
97% The Kingmaker (2019) It is to Greenfield's credit that she caught the mask of glamour slipping for a second, revealing the hideousness of tyranny underneath it. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2019
94% Honey Boy (2019) At 33, LaBeouf has come a long way... But as a writer, he wallows. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2019
94% Marriage Story (2019) Baumbach finds new depths in his performers, in the wounded, frightened side in Driver, and the macho side in Johansson; she's quite small, but formidable in a boy's haircut and trousers. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2019
97% Knives Out (2019) Knives Out is Thanksgiving entertainment for those seething at their relatives over the turkey carcass. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
97% Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) Pain and Glory is like getting a letter from Almodovar, but what's here is not all in words. He may not quite be the last filmmaker left who understands the power of color, but his eye has little equal; he notices the harmony of colors. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2019
95% The Irishman (2019) This movie about the ashes of crime is Scorsese at his sharpest and most feeling. - Good Times Santa Cruz EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2019
63% The Good Liar (2019) Happily, Bill Condon's The Good Liar rejoices in old age's boundless capacity for treachery -- a senior citizen's dirty avidity for just one more piece of pie. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2019
78% Doctor Sleep (2019) Flanagan hardly needed to revisit this familiar house of horrors when the story he's telling was already a highly satisfactory horror movie: a bonbon for those of us who haunt theaters and suck up other people's suffering. - Pacific Sun (San Rafael, CA) EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 7, 2019
87% Where's My Roy Cohn? (2019) Prosecutorial as it is, Matt Tyrnauer shows us the weirdly whimsical side of the man... I guess even river scum must have professional courtesy. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 31, 2019
80% Jojo Rabbit (2019) [An] elegantly turned if sometimes episodic comedy. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 31, 2019
97% Dolemite Is My Name (2019) Dolemite is My Name is great fun, despite the way it disgruntles the serious Rudy Ray Moore fan. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2019
68% Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) Nihilism and the movie's referential mania wear you out. There wasn't enough energy in the first Zombieland to channel into a sequel, and there was little left undone. - Good Times Santa Cruz EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2019
91% El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) This is tense and authentically tough, but not on its own wavelength, like David Lynch's brilliant sidebar to Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me. El Camino doesn't stand alone. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2019
68% Joker (2019) Phoenix's maniac is never boring, always finding new layers of anguish; it's even remarkable what he does with the cigarettes he chain smokes. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 10, 2019
100% Chulas Fronteras (1976) Despite the exuberance of the beat, Chulas Fronteras doesn't neglect the political side of life. Key to this film is the problem of crossing a line that, as Octavio Paz wrote, is not a border, but a scar. - North Bay Bohemian EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2019
65% The Sound of Silence (2019) The Sound of Silence is a thoughtful film, though; Sarsgaard is convincingly enigmatic, and observe how good Jones is in this mode, in which her mirth is restrained to a bare minimum. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2019
82% Judy (2019) There's a word for a lot of Judy, and that word is schmaltz; I preferred the previous arrangement where she'd sing "Over the Rainbow" and we'd cry, rather than the role reversal here. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2019
83% Ad Astra (2019) The lost-father drama can be tedious in the deftest hands. But this time, the celestial backdrop adds some allegorical freshness to the subject. - MetroActive EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 18, 2019
24% 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
45% 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
100% 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