Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jonathan Gold, Roy Choi, David Chang, Ruth Reichl, Calvin Trillin, Laurie Ochoa, Allen Salkin, Genet Agonafer, Nancy Silverton, Carolina Miranda, Andrew Zimmern
Written by: Laura Gabbert
Directed by: Laura Gabbert
MPAA Rating: R for some language
Running Time: 89
Date: 03/25/2016
IMDB

City of Gold (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Gold Flavors

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Laura Gabbert's City of Gold is a documentary about the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold, but it's really a documentary about journalism and eating, and truly appreciating both words and food. And, if I may struggle over a word for a moment, it's delectable. Working for the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Gold limits his culinary explorations to that city, but is actually unlimited, given the large number of cultures and dishes available there. Truly curious, Gold researches and dines several times before even setting fingers to keyboard. He's unassuming, but still well-known among the food world, he's slightly feared -- we see one restauranteur freaking out when Gold arrives unannounced -- but also loved; one interviewee explains that Gold is a most empathetic critic, more interested in understanding and sharing than he is in writing well-worded pans. Gold himself is a humble subject, perhaps not very dynamic, but still kind of lovable. He's not exactly tubby, but parts of him are: his fingers and neck. He has long, thinning gray hair and a mustache, and wears suspenders that literally seem to keep up his pants (they're not a fashion statement). He's seen giving a graduation speech and a reading in a bookstore, and he appears fairly uncomfortable at both. He claims to be lazy and easily distracted, forever late on reviews and constantly hounded by exasperated editors. But I see him as more curious than lazy. He never stops working; he just finds more things to absorb, either through his eyes, or his taste buds. Some celebrity chefs are interviewed (including Roy Choi, who previously made a movie mark as the creative consultant for Jon Favreau's wonderful Chef), and there's quite a bit of drool-worthy food photography, but director Gabbert lets Gold be his own subject.

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