"Criticism jockey" is the most apt, most succinct and, if I'm honest, most flattering description possible of what it is I've been doing with the Daily since it launched as an appendage to GreenCine in May 2003; there'd be a brief stopover at IFC before settling here at MUBI, where it well and truly belonged. I wish I'd come up with the term myself, but it comes from Paul Brunick, specifically, from a brief section on a "new kind of editor-as-aggregator" in his two-part survey of the state of film criticism for Film Comment (parts 1 and 2). Nearly a year on now, the piece more than holds up; you can practically watch the passing days, weeks and months proving his point: "Cinephilia generally and film criticism specifically are being profoundly transformed by the technologies of the Web. Where this process will end is hard to say; after all, today's cutting edge is tomorrow's primitivist phase. But what's clear is that film commentary, far from being exhausted, has barely begun to tap its evolutionary potential. And that's inherently exciting, undeniably fascinating." And finally, he adds, "if you're longing for a transformative decade, then look around. You're living in one. Try to enjoy it while it lasts."
The word that leaps out to me here is "enjoy." Back in 2007, Nick Dawson asked me about the mechanics of keeping the Daily rolling and, reading that informal interview now, I can see that what were already irritations and dissatisfactions then have since grown into something larger and more serious. In short, I've been skimming the surface far too exhaustively (and exhaustingly) for far too long, and it's time for me to step back from the noise and gather a little perspective. This doesn't mean I'll be disappearing altogether. With The Notebook, Danny Kasman has created the best regularly updated publication devoted to cinema and, once my head clears, I look forward to submitting contributions. And of course, whenever I stumble over an item of interest, you can be sure I'll be tweeting it via @thedailyMUBI. For now, though, even if only for a while, I need to take the needle off the record.