Q1 2024

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52 C I N E M O N T A G E B O O K R E V I E W tion of the critic who is writing. Whether consciously or not, consumers learn about the biases and thought processes of critics whose opinions they read consistently. This makes almost all criticism self-reflex- ive. "Opposable Thumbs" and this book review are, in this sense, self-reflexive. Whether consciously or not, consumers can see between the words and come to know something about who is writing or speaking. They sometimes sense as much about the critic as they learn about the film under consideration. "Opposable Thumbs" offers a brief overview of the history of film criticism in the U.S. but does not go far enough in its contextualization of the show within that history. Singer also ponders the demise of known authorial criticism in the current era of instant public analysis. The overload of opinions about any film can make it hard to trust anyone. If anyone retains some of the power of a critical voice today, it might be long-time writers at The New York Times, and on a popular scale, Leonard Maltin. The best critics have gravitas because of their subjective opinions. For a time, Siskel and Ebert had this gravitas because they were the most widely known f ilm critics in the U.S. The intelligentsia might quote The New Yorker's Pauline Kael or laugh at Gene Shalit's pun-filled reviews on "The Today Show," but in an era before anyone could become an internet film critic, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel possessed two important thumbs. Matt Singer provides a valuable record of their work, but his glo- rification of the men ultimately reveals as much about him as it does about films and film criticism. ■ "Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel and Ebert Changed the Movies Forever" By Matt Singer 352 pages G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2023

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