Looking for Richard [1996]

This strange and charming documentary by Al Pacino, in which he also stars, is an exploration of several topics: Shakespeare and his hump-backed villain, the impulse to act, the way actors work--and Pacino's single-minded effort to make the Bard accessible to all audiences and not just the effete few. Over the course of the film, Pacino alternately discusses the role and the text; roams Manhattan, talking about Shakespeare with everyone from scholars to people on the street; and re-creates scenes from the play in a production staged at the Cloisters, an evocative castle-like museum on the north end of Manhattan. He assembles a cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, Estelle Parsons, and Alec Baldwin to perform the scenes, and he slips back and forth between text and discussion of the play in a way that makes Shakespeare comprehensible and fascinating to viewers who know or care nothing about his writing. --Marshall Fine

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