Thumbs up to Neil Tesser, the Chicago journalist who provided your overview of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel with a welcome gust of good sense.
Tesser's quite right to assert that Ebert and Siskel reduce film criticism to "the barest essentials of plot and character." Perhaps they deal so glancingly with the director's art because they have only a hazy idea of what a movie director actually does.
Some years back, these two staged a mock awards show, during which they gave "The Formula" the nod for "worst cinematography." Their complaint? Too much use of the Panaglide camera; too many endless, dizzying tracking shots.
Their cavil was fine--but why blame the cinematographer? The director makes the decision to use a moving camera or not.
No wonder Chicago's two tastemongers to the post-literate generation never really deal with the art of the matter--they haven't apprised themselves of the basic facts of their field.