I wouldn't necessarily call Joe Queenan a film critic. He's more of a humorist, though one that has devoted much of his writings to the subject of movies. I've followed his work for many years and think his book Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades is only topped by Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese (by, of course, MST3K's Michael J. Nelson) where funny film writing is concerned. Lately Queenan has been writing about movies for UK's The Guardian, and so far, from the way our readers have commented on stories about his pieces, he's being taken too seriously over there. But then, Queenan is also seemingly guilty of trying to be taken more seriously as a film journalist.

Queenan's latest bit of internal musing disguised as a film feature is on the subject of The Departed, written in anticipation of the UK DVD release of the Martin Scorsese film. Queenan writes that Scorsese is trying to tell him something with the Oscar-nominated film because of the fate of a character in the film named Queenan (played by Martin Sheen). Apparently the name Queenan isn't very common, and Joe Queenan thinks the choosing of this name is a sort of payback -- or threat, maybe -- for unfavorable things he's written about the filmmaker, mainly that he has in the past addressed Scorsese's potentially misogynistic personal touches. In the end Queenan apologizes for making assumptions about Scorsese's real-life relationships with women.

Certainly -- and Queenan agrees -- the name is a coincidence, but Queenan is playing with the idea for humorous results. Unfortunately, the joke is an old one, and it suffers in its dustiness. It doesn't help that there have been definite cases of artists responding to critics in their works, the latest being Michael Crichton's naming of an unlikable character after political columnist Mick Crowley. In movies, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert have had namesakes in the Hollywood remake of Godzilla (I never saw it, so I can't say if the characters were unlikable or killed off).

I think that the best way for Scorsese to respond to Queenan, if he really felt it was necessary, or if he has a sense of humor, would be to put in his next film an extra wearing a shirt that says "Queenan" on it, and have the extra passed by, and ignored, as if to say to the writer, "you aren't important to me." Obviously, though, this would be an unnecessary waste of concentration.