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Review: Food critic documentary ‘City of Gold’ a treat

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Jonathan Gold’s food reviews aren’t just about food, much in the same way the documentary “City of Gold” isn’t just about Gold.

Director Laura Gabbert’s enriching portrait of the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic celebrates food as an expression of life and delves deep into the colorful tapestry of Los Angeles. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of L.A. than Gold, and “City of Gold” sheds light on the neighborhoods, ethnic diversity and subcultures that make L.A. so vibrant and unique.

Gold isn’t a food critic in the stuffy, five-course sense, he is a champion of the gritty diners and local joints tucked away in mini malls that have been preserving grandmother’s recipe and serving a small but dedicated clientele for years. The impact of a Gold review is illustrated in interviews with restaurant owners who share the stories of the waves of people who flooded their establishments in the wake of his write-ups.

With his stringy hair, bushy mustache and stocky frame, Gold resembles Comic Book Guy on “The Simpsons” or Philip Seymour Hoffman playing David Crosby. He doesn’t represent the glitz and glamour of L.A., but rather the everyday inhabitants that lie in what he describes as the “fault lines” that separate the city’s cultures.

“City of Gold” also praises the role of critics in society and the power and romance of the written word. There’s an honesty in what Gold writes and the way he writes it, which is why his words have so much impact. The film has a similar impact to one of his reviews. Come hungry, leave stuffed.

‘City of Gold’


Rated R for some language

Running time: 96 minutes