Spinning Gold Movie Review
Spinning Gold Movie Review Metadata
Clive Davis and Barry Gordy are well-known names in the record industry. Columbia Records and Motown are responsible for the soundtrack of our lives, introducing us to acts like Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, The Supremes and The Jackson 5. Maybe the biggest name you’ve never heard of, unless you’re one of those people (you know who you are), and the person Spinning Gold (2023) is breathless to spotlight is Neil Bogart, the legend behind Casablanca Records. He’s responsible for giving us, among others, Kiss, The Isley Brothers, Donna Summer, and Parliament.
To this day, I can’t not hear the opening strains of “Dim All The Lights” without wanting to strap on my roller skates and hitting the floor for AAAAALLL SKAAAAAAATE.
An untraditional biopic, think along the lines of Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocket Man (2019), Neil Bogart (Jeremy Jordan) narrates the high and lowlights of his all-too-brief life story. It starts with a reimagined dramatization of enticing the Edwin Hawkins Singers to sign with Buddha Records with nothing more than a handshake and a briefcase full of cash. There is singing and really unfortunate dancing, and for a moment you may be super worried there will be more dreamlike musical interludes to follow. Fortunately, it’s a misplaced fear and for the most part, all subsequent music is by the performers Bogart brings onboard, reminding this generation of the music previous generations grew up with.
From his humble beginnings in the Flatlands of Brooklyn, Neil grew up wanting to be more, certainly more than his father, who spent his time getting beat up by loan sharks. The aggressive dreamer put stock in his charisma and made people believe that music, especially from indie labels without the deep pockets, was the heart and soul of the universe. For most of Spinning Gold, his debt mounts, bottoming out at $6,500,000, but it doesn’t dampen his spirit, although it does break a few bones. It’s crazy to see a line of credit get that out of control with the sole collateral being faith, but that was the wild history of Casablanca Records.
Bogart’s bag of tricks was not limited to Hard Rock and he helped usher in the age of Disco and Funk, spending money borrowed from, of all people, the Capital “M” Mob, for artists he believed would eventually make it big if he could just get the music onto turntables. While his story glosses over, ignores, or romanticizes his gambling, drug use, and infidelity (it’s his story after all) the focus of Spinning Gold is on the music, with singers in the core roles, like Jason Derulo as Ronald Isley, Casey Likes as Gene Simmons, Tayla Parx as Donna Summers, and Wiz Kalifa as George Clinton. Each performer in turn gives their own on spin the classics that made them staples on the radio.
Spinning Gold is the theatrical definition of “breezy.” Nothing heavy is laid on the screen as Bogart drifts from one wild idea to another. His support system, made up of family and close friends, his wife Beth (Michelle Monaghan) and his core staff that follow him from one label to another – his sister in law, Nancy (Peyton List), Cecil (Jay Pharoah), Buck (Dan Fogler) and Frankie (Chris Redd), are important to how his story plays out because it’s hard to do impossible on your own. How they held him up when things were dire is a central part of his story, and that’s what makes this an enjoyable film to watch. Bogart’s enthusiasm is infectious and Jeremy Jordan sells his dream hard with a cocky self-assurance he almost never lets drop. Could this be an Oscar-worthy performance? Maybe. It’s never too early to say,
How much of Spinning Gold is true and how much is filtered through the rose-colored lens of nostalgia and familial hero-worship? I dunno, and this is Hollywood, so let his sons, the writers and executive music producers, Timothy Scott Bogart and Evan Bogart idolize their father how they want. It runs a little long at 137 minutes, but there’s a lot of cloud-reaching mania to pack into a single biopic. There are rarely seen interviews and family movies through the credits, so stick around and see how a dream shaped a man who went on to shape dreams.
Spinning Gold is Rated R for swears, nose candy, nekkidness, party sexytimes, private sexytimes, mob violence, and questionable hair and fashion choices that defined the 1970s.