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City of Gold is a wonderful documentary, now available on iTunes and probably elsewhere, about Jonathan Gold, a longtime restaurant reviewer in Los Angeles. Gold is like of like a culinary Raymond Chandler, moving down LA's mean streets, though he's not in search of criminals; rather, he is seeking tiny restaurants in strip malls, food trucks and carts, or the odd ethnic restaurant that he sees as challenging convention and raising the gastronomic bar.

Gold is seen wandering the surface streets and freeways of Los Angeles in his beaten up Dodge truck, looking for inspiration in the form of things such as fried grasshoppers or tacos with charred octopus. Los Angeles is a place, he says, where you "don't have to travel far to taste food that makes you think you've traveled far."

And this may be the real magic of Gold's writing and this documentary. He is deeply, passionately in love not just with the food of Los Angeles but with the city itself, seeing it as a place where there are an extraordinary number of cultures bumping up against each other and overlapping. The "fault lines where the cultures meet," Gold says, often is where the real beauty is.

City of Gold is a terrific piece of work about a man who is not just a food critic, but an invaluable chronicler of the culture. And best of all, it is anything but stuffy; Gold maintains a sense of humor about himself and his role.

In one of the best lines of the documentary, Gold says that he does not take notes while eating in restaurants. "You also could take notes during sex," he says, "but you'd probably end up missing something."

Great piece of filmmaking. I highly recommend it.




Marvel is out with yet another in a sometimes seemingly unending series of superhero films - this one, Doctor Strange, is about an esteemed, egotistical and supremely talented surgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident that plays out like a public service ad against testing-while-driving. Desperate and depressed after he is unable to find any medical way to cure his disability, Stephen Strange turns to the mystical arts - where he finds himself embroiled in a far greater fight than the one to regain his surgical skills.

Like most Marvel movies, Doctor Strange is pretty silly and dense with backstory and myth. It also has some great actors - Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton in supporting parts. And, as usual, it is fabulous production values - Doctor Strange is psychedelic in its view of a world that can be folded in upon itself (and I'm really glad to have seen it in Imax 3D, where the effects are mind-blowing).

Doctor Strange isn't really my kind of movie, but I had a good time.




This week, I had the chance to spend some time in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so I made tracks to the Surly Brewing Company, where I washed down some supremely tasty chilaquiles with a Damien black ale that was amazingly tasty. Unfortunately, you may not be able to share the experience, since the bartender told me that they were on the last keg of the limited edition beer. To get it again, you'll have to wait until next year.

It'll be worth the wait.




If you have not been watching "Westworld" on HBO, I would suggest that you find a way to catch up - I'm finding it to be a spellbinding experience, complex and thought-provoking. Based on the old Michael Crichton movie, "Westworld" portrays an elaborate theme park in which humans are able to satisfy every need by interacting with "host" robots. The TV series, unlike the movie, very much focuses on the robots, who are beginning to develop some sort of independent consciousness; there are a lot of questions to be answered about who is human and not, what being human really means, and even about the timelines that are playing out.

The cast is wonderful, but so far the standout is Evan Rachel Wood, who plays a robot host named Dolores. She's had a ton of great moments, but perhaps the best one so far was last Sunday when she did something unexpected and turned to someone and said, "You said people come here to change the story of their lives. I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the damsel."

Great stuff. I'm totally hooked.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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