Dan O’Neill is the creator and writer behind Dan The Man Movie Reviews, one of the first review blogs I ever discovered on WordPress and a hub through which I got to know a lot of other great writers. Dan puts out a steady stream of reviews for new theatrical releases and more, check out his reviews of this week’s Here Comes the Boom, Seven Psychopaths, Argo and Sinister.
Rorschach Reviews: You mention in your site’s introduction page that your first blog “wasn’t a good one, mostly due to format.” When and how did things start to turn around for you?
Dan O’Neill: Well, when I first started off doing all of my movie reviews and whatnot for this little website, I noticed that I wasn’t getting any publicity. It reminded me of the good old saying: “It doesn’t matter what you have, it matters on who sees it.” Now, I don’t know if that’s an age-old quote from the books of history, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. I had all of this material and had all of the proper needs for a successful movie review blog, but I just didn’t have the audience. That didn’t change until I went to make my website with WordPress, and then things started to turn around where people actually saw my work and started to comment. However, it wasn’t pixie sticks and candy at first, it took me forever to actually get a bunch of subscribers/followers, but thankfully, I started showing some love on other people’s sites and realized that reaching out to the other people, is really what gets you big. Around early 2010, things started to change for me and that’s when I actually realized that maybe, just maybe, I can get a nice amount of people to visit my blog, read it, and subscribe to it, and thankfully, I wasn’t wrong. Or, at least I don’t think so.
RR: You certainly weren’t wrong, and I know that I’m not alone in aspiring to your viewership. On a different note, one thing I have always been curious about is your blog’s cover photo. How did you come to choose this image to feature so prominently in you’re blog’s aesthetic?
DO: Well, in case you haven’t been able to tell, I love City of God and consider it one of the best films of the past decade. That famous shot, I have no idea what it is about it but it just got me as soon as I saw it and I thought it was what basically sums up movies. Beauty and sexuality put together is essentially what movies are all about, especially the first part and it just shined right through when I first saw that image. It’s a great one and that’s probably why I have kept it up on my blog since the very beginning and to be honest, I have no intentions of taking it down. It’s almost become my trademark, ya know?
RR: Definitely. Most successful bloggers have some sort of Trademark like that; it’s good to see one with more personal impact. As for City of God I confess I’ve never seen it but if The Constant Gardener is any indication of Meirelles’ quality than I may be due for a viewing here sooner than later. Are there any other directors who have emerged onto the filmmaking scene in the past few years who you particularly admire?
DO: I can assure you this, City of God is way, way, way better than The Constant Gardener but then again, that’s probably just because I saw Gardener after City of God and maybe my expectations were a bit high. Anyhow, I can’t really think of any directors that have really been catching my eye as of late considering I’m so inconsistent with most directors’ works, except for Quentin Tarantino. He’s the man, even if he is a total nut. But one director that I was thinking about the other day was Jason Reitman and how I have enjoyed all 4 of his films, very much. So, maybe he’s a director that I can say I admire, but I don’t really know just yet. Wait till the year’s over and get back to me and maybe I’ll have the perfect answer. What directors have you been admiring as of late?
RR: I’d definitely have to agree on Reitman, I wasn’t quite as impressed with Young Adult as I was with his other films but I absolutely love the writing he did for Up in the Air and Thank You for Smoking. As far as other modern directors go though I’d have to say that I will always see any movie Edgar Wright has ever had a hand in. Between Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim I really enjoy his manic style of comedic direction, and I am very excited for his next movie “The World’s End” next year as he reunites with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Are there any similar Director/Actor pairings like that that you typically enjoy? (I.e. Burton and Depp/Bonham-Carter, Scorcese and DeNiro, etc.)
DO: Scorcese and DiCaprio have been really kicking ass lately and from what I hear, I heard that Scorcese is thinking about doing one last mobster movie with DiCaprio, Pacino, DeNiro, and Pesci, among others, and that to me, sounds pretty freakin’ awesome. I don’t know how well it would play-out once they actually get to that point, but that’d be pretty cool. As for other actor/director combinations, I don’t really like Depp with Burton as much as of late, but I do like Depp with Verbinski and I think that The Lone Ranger, despite all of the controversy, will deliver the goods. I don’t know though, are there many other combos out there that actually still deliver as much as they used to?
RR: I’d say so, the most recent one I can think of would be or Ryan Gosling and Nicholas Refn (Drive and the upcoming Only God Forgives and Logan’s Run). Back to The Lone Ranger, do you think the casting of Depp and Armie Hammer were good choices? If you could’ve chose who would you have picked?
DO: In all honesty, I think the choices were perfect. Casting Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger was actually a pretty smart move on Verbinski’s part, because the guy isn’t huge, but people know him and his face, and this will most likely make The Lone Ranger a character that stands on his own, rather than say we had Brad Pitt playing him and we’d just say, “Oh, it’s Brad Pitt playing the Lone Ranger”. Know what I mean? And as for Depp, I honestly don’t think they could have chosen a wackier person for this wacky-ass role as Tonto and yes, I know he’s not a Native American but you have to take into consideration that if anybody is going to make a wild character like Tonto work, it’s Depp. He’s crazy, loopy, and extremely talented. It’s kind of a bummer that they’re probably going to make it all about Tonto but seriously, I can’t complain too much when it’s Depp in the lead role and he’s not being directed by Burton. Thank the high heavens for that!
RR: Agree with that, I’ll take a Captain Jack Sparrow over the onslaught of different Burton characters Depp has been playing recently any day. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see next August. Before we go, do you have any advice you would give to people out there trying to start/improve a successful movie review blog?
DO: Yeah, I would just say to never stop writing and no matter how crappy you think you may be doing, don’t let it get in your head and tell you that you need to quit while you’re ahead. If you love writing and watching movies, then this is the perfect thing to do when combining the two and it takes a lot of heart to keep it going on and on and on. It’s been a long-ass road for me, but I’m still kicking away and I don’t feel like I want to ever give up. So, for anybody out there who ever wants to start something like a movie review blog and be successful, just remember, always keep writing and never give up. Sounds a bit hokey, I know, but it’s something that has kept me going on for a while now and I still have no intentions of stopping. Wooo hooo!