Thursday, September 29, 2016

Movie Review: City of Gold (2016)

City of Gold movie poster
City of Gold (2016) - Directed by Laura Gabbert

By Kenny Howell

Documentary filmmaker Laura Gabbert brings us a portrait of influential food critic Jonathan Gold, who changed the dining landscape in Los Angeles.

When Gold came onto the scene, food criticism was writers going to fancy restaurants most people can't afford, and often reviewing the same type of food, mostly French.

But Gold knew that great food was hidden in all the restaurants that were hole in the walls, places that popped up with all the different cultures that had emigrated to Los Angeles.

So he reviewed Central American food, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, anything that came out that provided an unique dining experience. Bizarre dishes that normal people wouldn't even know existed without the help of Gold's reviews. That opened up Los Angeles' residents to all kind of restaurants they never would have dined before, and really made stars of chefs throughout the city.

Gold doesn't just write about food, though that is where he really reached his stardom. He also is influential in the Los Angeles music scene, and really any cultural aspect of Los Angeles itself. He was there when gangsta rap and the west coast scene exploded with the likes of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He was there for the riots after the Rodney King verdict. He loves the city, and accentuates those things in his reviews on food, music or culture at large.

Gabbert begins her focus on the food aspect of Gold's career, which is where it seems the whole film is going to lie. But she then transitions into those other aspects, which makes City of Gold seem a bit disjointed in the last half. Still, Gold is an interesting character, a much better writer than I could ever wish to be, and worthy of the solid portrait that is given on him.

Rating: ***

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