Spinning Gold has a rockin’ soundtrack and is a bigger-than-life biopic about record producer and Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart.
There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of Neil Bogart. After all, the record executive died before he turned 40 years old. He’s not one of the well-known figures like Berry Gordy, Jerry Wexler, Clive Davis, Sam Phillips, Leonard Chess, etc. Nor is he in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the biggest names in rock history. Anyway, everything that audiences see in this film is true. Well, maybe. Chances are likely that some of the events did not go down exactly as depicted. But in any event, I spent the film’s 2:17 runtime resisting the urge to get out of my seat and start dancing. Speaking of the run time, it earns every minute of it. Make sure to stay for the credits, too, to catch a glimpse of archival footage and Bogart family home videos.
Timothy Scott Bogart, Neil’s son with first wife Beth (Michelle Monaghan) takes an interesting approach to the film’s narrative. This film is some twenty years or so in the making. In any event, Bogart brings something of a fresh approach to the musical biopic. Neil Bogart (Jeremy Jordan) directly looks in the camera and narrates his own story. But as much as you’re watching the film for Neil’s story, you’re also watching for its killer soundtrack. In paying attention to the credits, it’s not a case of hiring an actor who ends up being dubbed. No, every performer in the film, from what I can tell, is credited in performing the song. Had I watched a watermarked screener, I’d have probably been singing along and dancing in my apartment. Instead, I watched it on the big screen and the experience was way better.
Bogart’s eye for both talent and the music itself is simply unbelievable. I mean, you have the producer sitting next to Gladys Knight (Ledisi) as she plays “Midnight Train to Georgia” on the piano. Only it’s “Midnight Plane to Houston.” As we all know, the rest is history. There are other moments sprinkled throughout the film, including Bogart playing with the sound mix for The Isley Brothers as Ron Isley (Jason DeRulo) sings “It’s Your Thing.” All in all, the film focuses on 1966 to 1977 and shows how the producer gambled on just about everything. Just when one thought Casablanca Records was dead, they were back in the game.
For the Bogart family, the film turns into a family affair beyond writer/director Timothy Scott Bogart. The film’s executive music producer is Grammy award-winning songwriter, music producer and publisher Evan Bogart aka E. Kidd Bogart. Brad Bogart is a producer. Speaking of family, the film doesn’t shy away from Bogart’s own flaws as a person–his love for both Beth and Joyce Biawitz (Lyndsy Fonseca).
If you’re a fan of Donna Summer, Parliament, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers, The Village People, Bill Withers, or KISS, you also owe a debt of gratitude to the late Bogart. It is not an understatement to say that their music drives Spinning Gold’s soundtrack. KISS and Summer, especially, play the biggest role in the film. In any event, none of this would have happened if a Jewish kid from the Brooklyn Projects never dared to dream. Had he stayed within the four blocks, this film wouldn’t even have happened.
Spinning Gold has an awesome soundtrack but it’s also a reminder to never give up on our dreams, even in the face of insurmountable odds.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Timothy Scott Bogart
CAST: Jeremy Jordan, Michelle Monaghan, Jay Pharoah, Lyndsy Fonseca, Dan Fogler, Peyton List, James Wolk, Michael Ian Black, Chris Redd, Vincent Pastore, Nick Sandow, with Sebastian Maniscalco and Jason Isaacs, featuring
Sam Harris and Casey Likes with performances by Ledisi, Alex Gaskarth, Pink Sweat$, Wiz Khalifa, and Jason Derulo and introducing Tayla Parx
Hero Entertainment and Howling Wolf Films will release Spinning Gold in theaters on March 31, 2023. Grade: 3.5/5
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