Melissa Pierson
May 02, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Poor Shakespeare, relegated to the status of intellectual spinach. So thinks Al Pacino, who’s most familiar playing tough cops and seedy hoods but who really likes the Bard and knows you would too, if only you understood him as Al does. So in his directing debut, Looking for Richard, he aims to popularize Richard III, assembling considerable star power (including Winona Ryder and Alec Baldwin) and documenting the staging process. Against the odds, his intercutting of scenes from the play with discussions of the text makes for a stirring paean to Shakespeare. So if you’ve turned up your nose at spinach before, try this nutritious take-home serving. A-

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