'City of Gold' review: Endearing portrait of a critic & his beloved Los Angeles
Come for the intriguing story of an unlikely Pulitzer Prize winner - stay for a film that is more than just a loving portrait of a fantastic storyteller. "City of Gold" (opening in select cities nationwide March 25) is a celebration of food critic Jonathan Gold, civic journalism and the City of Los Angeles.
In short: A portrait of Jonathan Gold, who started out as a proofreader and ended up a Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic for the Los Angeles Times. (Watch the trailer)
Foodies will love this appetite whetting documentary - lovers of food will want to rush out to find their next favorite restaurant immediately after watching this movie. Gold's fans will also enjoy this more personal look at the man behind the lyrically prosed restaurant reviews. At first blush, this documentary is about a writer and his two favorite subjects: food and his city -- but more than anything else, this film celebrates the art of storytelling.
"City of Gold" absolutely grasps exactly what makes Jonathan Gold's reviews so compelling. He is not merely some self-anointed authority of fine cuisine - Jonathan Gold is chronicling the people and cultures of L.A. He is appreciating and taking every thread of the tapestry. In doing so, he is taking his readers on a journey that explores every nook and cranny of city by using one of the most universal senses of all: taste. His prose gives the sprawling megalopolis of Los Angeles an almost small, hometown feel. The collective of his work paints a picture of a true melting pot where each ingredient adds to the greater stew, yet retains its own distinct flavor.
This film also pinpoints how vital artful writing does far more than merely describe how a meal tastes. "City of Gold" explores how appreciating the city's culture is a form of civic journalism. A doc that just recounted how a man rose from a desk job to food critic would have been interesting - but "City of Gold" explores why people flock to the restaurants Gold reviews and how his columns are more than simple food critiques.
The only real knock against "City of Gold" is its disjointed overall structure - it will suddenly shift between topics from time to time. While these abrupt shifts are never painfully jarring, the minimal amount of transitions do prevent the film from flowing elegantly.
Final verdict: "City of Gold" is a documentary that works on several levels - from the sensory to the heartwarming. The best films are a call to action to its audiences - and this film absolutely demands its viewers binge-read as many of Gold's columns as possible and urges food lovers to seek out culinary surprises in the most unlikely corners of their own cities.
"City of Gold" opens in select cities nationwide March 25. This documentary is rated R for some language.