Spinning Gold is not good folks. This film that is sold as the story of Casablanca Records is about Neil Bogart, one of the founders, and from the way, the film tells it the driving force behind this label and the artists on it and somehow their music. I sat in the theater, mostly confused with what I was watching. I wondered if this was a musical play that was on Broadway or Off-Broadway for a short run? I wondered because the film starts with Jeremy Jordan as Neil bursting into a Black Church as a choir sings Oh, Happy Day with him joining them. Yet I think I would’ve heard about a musical with a songbook that includes the work of Gladys Knight and the Pips, KISS, The Isley Brothers, The Village People, and more. So no, it’s not that. Hmmm, I thought – are they trying to do a movie that then leads to a musical play? Maybe the sets in the film aren’t that great, and the hair isn’t that good, and the characters are quite broad but not in a good way, like when you’re watching some musical theater, and it needs to reach the back of the house. Well, it’s not good at that either. So what is this movie, and how did I end up in the seat watching this movie?
So Spinning Gold, as I said about, is focused on the life of Neil Bogart, written, directed, and produced by Timothy Scott Bogart, Neil’s son, and after seeing this, you can see a person’s child made it as it lionizes them to an almost demigod like degree. The film covers Neil’s life and career in music while it also makes his friends and colleagues into sidekicks visually, even if the words say otherwise. It also glazes over the man’s gambling problems and hardcore drug use. It turns his infidelity into some romantic conflict in this man’s heart, as his true love is his music ambition to bring these artists’ music into the world. It’s not really fair to all the people involved and the actors in the film because you can see that they were trying with a script that doesn’t work and directing along with a budget that made me feel like I was watching a Hallmark or Lifetime film in the theater. I know they this movie had more money than any of those companies’ TV movies. The casting in this film for the legendary artists visually doesn’t work, but all these folks, actual recording artists, can sing and perform, but they just don’t really fit who they are playing.
I sat and wondered why he made a story that wasn’t about the label’s creation or the business stuff as a whole but more about the romantic elements of this man’s life. Why were Ronald Isley and Gladys Knight just story props to show that he was somehow better at Black music than the people who made Black music? KISS is barely more than a prop since they have a bit more agency and a plotline with Neil and the rest of the company, but only the two most famous members have that. It’s disheartening, and I think they should’ve done more by all closer to something like what Cadillac Records did in mixing the personal, the group, and the music business together better than this did. And I’m not saying that film was high-level cinema, but it was very much better made than this movie. Everyone deserved better, even Neil Bogart.