Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist... See full summary »
Francesca De Luca
CITY OF GOLD is about the transformative power of food and food writing in how we experience where we live. Pulitzer Prize winning critic, Jonathan Gold, is our VIrgilian guide, casting his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement, a movement in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of his beloved Los Angeles.
Insightful documentary on today's Los Angeles (through the eyes of Jonathan Gold)
"City of Gold" (2015 documentary; 96 min.) is a documentary about Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic for the LA Times. As the documentary opens, we see Gold sitting at his computer and looking at a blank screen. Then all of the sudden the words start to roll and the voice-over gives us Gold's 2014 review of Guerilla Tacos, a food truck, To tell you more would spoil your viewing pleasure, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: the documentary is written, produced and directed by Laura Gabbert, who previously brought us the equally delightful "No Impact Man". Here she profiles the well-known food critic (and erstwhile music critic) Jonathan Gold. I really didn't know much about this man before seeing this. Turns out he is a down-to-earth guy, driving around his Dodge pick-up truck, little ego to speak of yet obviously very smart. One thing that he is very passionate about is his love for LA (he grew up there), and the diversity of the food that is available there, due to the city being a melting pot of cultures (or as Gold coins it, "a great glittering mosaic"). It seems that he'd rather visit and review food trucks and authentic holes-in-the-walls as opposed to the fancy 5 star French restaurant. Just as Gold is using food only a pretext to write about the city, so also does Habbert only use Gold as a pretext to paint a portrait of LA. And along the way, we get the answer to questions such as "why do we need food critics when we have Yelp reviews?" If you are wondering whether you need to be a foodie yourself in order to enjoy this film, my answer is a clear "no" (I'm not a foodie either). Bottom line: this is an enjoyable and insightful documentary about a food critic and his interactions with the food scene in Los Angeles.
"City of Gold" recently had a one-week run at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. As it happened, I caught the movie on its very last day of that run. Not surprisingly, I had a private screening, as in: I literally was the only person in the theater. Hopefully this is the kind of movie that will find a wider audience once it becomes available on VOD and eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. Meanwhile, if you like documentaries or if you are a foodie, "City of Gold" is certainly worth checking out.
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