At last year’s Oscars, Sean Penn got himself into a little bit of trouble when he made a “green card” joke at the expense of Alejandro G. Inarritu. While the riff probably isn’t one he should’ve broadcast on national television, Penn and Inarritu are pals, having worked together on “21 Grams,” and at one point, nearly reteaming for “The Revenant” (Penn would’ve taken Tom Hardy‘s villain role). That didn’t happen, but chatting with Variety, Penn gushes about the movie and explains why it’s up there the great films of all all time.
“I watched the ‘The Revenant’ with Alejandro and four others. I had the great benefit of being able to see it before anything was in the ether, in terms of critics or other trendsetters. I thought it was a masterpiece,” the actor stated. “I don’t think I’ve had an experience in a movie theater as a kind of stepping cinema forward like that since I saw ‘Apocalypse Now.’ To see what happens when bold producers support a bold director who is such an artist on that level with great actors like that — I was compelled throughout.”
He praises the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Hardy, but circles back to the work of Inarritu, and says, particularly in an era of content driven, blockbuster filmmaking, it needs to be celebrated.
“I put Alejandro with the master painters. There’s been a lot of technical steps forward and people who have done extraordinary work. But I’ve never seen something that’s basic premise is naturalism — realism in terms of its visuals — that has quite this poetry with the use of newer technologies….I’d like to think we’re a culture that values its art enough to recognize we need this,” Penn said.
“The Revenant” opens on Christmas Day.