Looking for Richard (USA, 1996)

looking-for-richard-movie-poster-1996-1020270909Directed by: Al Pacino. I was on a bit of a Shakespeare nerd-trip lately and I found this thing (with a different DVD cover—I probably would have dismissed this one as a lame buddy comedy). Basically, Richard III is an interesting play, but also, watching Pacino use a movie to delve into his own nerd fascination with Shakespeare is pretty interesting. His main concern is the adaptation of Shakespeare by modern Americans, and the level of appreciation to the average modern American, and dismantling the layers of obfuscation that keep Shakespeare in a stratified level of inaccessible “high art” and taking him back to the streets. And, as far as that goes, I think Pacino’s pretty spot-on here. He gets re-creations of the classic scenes, in full costume, in age-appropriate sets—Hell, he even goes for a proper outdoor battle sequence with horses at the end. But he also shows us the impromptu enactments of the scenes while he’s out scouting locations with his camera crew, resulting in some great soliloquies with Pacino in his trench coat and that stupid backwards hat, but his face playing it with the full gravity of a Globe Theatre performance. All of the fourth-wall, exposed filmmaking stuff and disjointed editing, the talking about the actors and then showing the actors acting, all of that, even though it sometimes drives me nuts, feels really great here. And you can’t go wrong with the supporting cast—Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey (this must have been around Glengarry Glen Ross I guess), Winona Ryder, and Aidan Quinn as the upstart king. I won’t push this movie on anyone, because I’m wary of preaching when it comes to Shakespeare or the Beatles or whatever, and also because I’m, at best, a mid-level, recreational Shakespeare nerd (I’ve only read like, half of the plays, max). But even just as a piece of bizarre, unconventional deconstructionist documentary, regardless of the subject matter, I would say that it is of interest to anyone interested in that kind of thing.

One response to “Looking for Richard (USA, 1996)

  1. Pingback: Hamlet (UK, 1948) | Offhand Reviews·

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