“Criticism is criticism,” says Jonathan Gold, who writes about food for The Los Angeles Times. “An aria is like a well-cooked potato.” To which I can only say: Amen. Creative inspiration can be found in a great variety of human pursuits, and criticism is the name we give to the act of identifying and sharing it. A painting is, in that respect, like a poem. A well-written book is like a well-built shelf. A newspaper column is like a documentary film.
“City of Gold,” directed by Laura Gabbert, is an affectionate portrait of Mr. Gold, a genial walrus of a man with a graying ginger mane and a gentle, gaptoothed smile. The film accompanies him in his green pickup truck as he patrols the streets of Los Angeles, pointing out the best places to find fiery Southern Thai stews and sublime Oaxacan moles. We sit in on editorial meetings and peek over his shoulder as he writes on his laptop at the dining room table. Colleagues and expert witnesses are summoned to pay tribute to his genius and annotate his quirks. We spend some time with Laurie Ochoa, his wife and erstwhile editor, and their two children. We learn about Mr. Gold’s childhood, his early career, his Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Gabbert, in other words, follows the usual documentary recipe.