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City of Gold - review

May 24, 2016 Film & TV

On the face of it, Laura Gabbert’s documentary about the career of a food critic for the Los Angeles Times is the very definition of a small film. She follows professional eater Jonathan Gold from cafe to restaurant to taco stand, she interviews his colleagues, she pieces together his career and gives you a sense of his approach to life. Are you excited yet?

I wasn’t. When this film played at the New Zealand International Film Festival last year, it didn’t even make my list of things I was annoyed I didn’t have time to watch. But friends kept putting it on their festival highlights lists. Gradually, I realised I’d managed to miss one of the year’s best-loved documentaries. Now it’s back, and I’ve caught up with it. This is a small film in the same way that the Tardis is a small box.

This is a small film in the same way that the Tardis is a small box.

Gold is one of those rare best-case critics who can write about a forest once he’s seen a leaf. He uses food culture as a way into talking about the larger culture of Los Angeles, which he describes as the exact opposite of a melting pot, “a great glittering mosaic”, where hundreds of regional cultures from around the globe coexist side by side. There’s a whole philosophy of life in this film, and a portrait of a city with striking similarities to ours, and an introduction to a man worth meeting.

In cinemas from 26 May 2016.



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