He refers to "an academic paper" that explores the incest angle (in fact there have been several). But where does he say anything about papers he thinks others should write?
That was my misreading. I've seen him use that formulation before ("there's material for an academic paper here") but on a second look I realize in this case he was referring to a paper already written.
Thanks for your further comments, Gregory. It seems you dislike the genre Ebert writes in, which in my opinion makes nitpicking all the more futile. I also don't have much use for the "digest review" genre but I'm not that worried about it either. I don't think people read Ebert because they think his interpretations are the correct and final ones, I think most people read him to see what they might disagree with (he made his career out of being disagreed with weekly in front of a national audience.) You may find his reviews lazy compared to in-depth analysis but most people aren't interested in reading that.
I not a big fan of "Easy Target" Ebert myself, and in particular his "Great Movies" reviews are almost always useless to me. But that's because they're written for a different audience. I think they help strengthen film culture more than they harm it. I suspect more people will rent Late Spring
directly because of Ebert's piece than because of any more substantial writings on the film. And if this DVD does well for Criterion, it will encourage them to bring more Ozu DVDs out of their locker.
And, as inaccurate I think this particular stab in the dark is, I appreciate it because it's an attempt to break down barriers Westerners can have around Ozu's films. I've encountered many people who watch his films and feel timid about trying to understanding his characters and their motivations, as if the temporal, spatial and cultural dislocation means that Noriko is a completely different kind of human being than we are. I welcome anything that tries to erode the mystique of Ozu's impenetrable Japanese-ness.