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.
Laura did a great job on the documentary that Cornicles Jonathan's journey of many years that takes him though Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs. I see lots of documentaries and I think this is one of the most interesting and enjoyable ones that I have seen: and it's not that I am bias as he is my son in-law. I actually found out things that I did not know about his early life.
If anything, City of Gold could use a dash more Jonathan Gold. Only toward the end does it reveal he grew up in South Central, where his earliest memories were tanks growling down the streets during the Watts riots. At twelve, he was a cello prodigy. At twenty he was grinding the cello in a punk band, and soon met his wife, Laurie Ochoa, at the LA Weekly when she was an intern and he a proofreader. Twenty-five years of marriage later, she's still his favorite taco truck date. And despite the last decade of accolades, he remains punk at heart, staggering at a Vietnamese joint named Pho Kim.
One of the film's funniest scenes is of Gold's brother Mark, an environmentalist, taking him to task for supporting sushi restaurants that sell blue-fin tuna. "Jonathan is eating everything I'm trying to save," he sighs, though Mark is grateful his brother decried shark fin soup. Yet City of Gold's most resonant moment is Gold walking through an art museum with his son and daughter, passing on his father's love of culture to the next generation. When his boy asks why a figurine doesn't have eyes, Gold explains that sometimes the facts of a portrait aren't the priority — a philosophy his reviews serve up with every plate.