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Spinning Gold

Spinning Gold
The 2023 film Spinning Gold is an overlong and overblown biopic allegedly providing the viewer a look into the life of Neil Bogart, the co-founder of Casablanca Records, who took credit for the success of some of music's biggest stars, including the rock group KISS and the disco queen Donna Summer.

This film introduces Bogart as a slick show business hustler who went through several occupations and name changes before finally finding his calling at Casablanca Records, where his handling KISS, Summer, George Clinton, the Isley Brothers, and other artists falters due to his true lack of experience in the business and his blaming his mistakes on everyone he works for, refusing to be accountable for anything that happens, including driving the label $6,000,000 into the red.

Incredibly, this film was written and directed by Bogart's son, Timothy Scott Bogart, who doesn't paint his father in a favorable light at all. This might have been due to the logistics of bringing this story to the screen, that were probably pretty complicated considering that a lot of the artists are still with us, probably causing Timothy to make a lot of concessions to get the film made that really take away from the authenticity of what we see here. None of the actors playing any of the artists even begin to resemble the people they are portraying and no original recordings were used for the musical segments centered on said artists, making what we're being told here a little hard to believe.

It doesn't help that Bogart's screenplay follows the typical biopic route that we've seen in a million other movies, featuring every show business cliche we've ever seen. The initial romance where he tells the woman he loves of his big dreams, the rocket-speed trip to financial success and living to the excess, turning to the mob for financial assistance, infidelity and drugs also make their expected appearances in the story. The story also insists that Bogart is responsible for most of the artists biggest hits. The scene depicting Neil helping Donna Summer create her controversial 1976 hit "Love to Love You Baby" bordered on laughable. Ditto Bogart's narration, a lot of it done directly to the camera.

Bogart was clearly afforded a huge budget to bring this story to the screen, but it doesn't appear to have been evenly spread out. The hedonistic 1970's are recreated realistically, though some production values were definitely lacking here, sound in particular...there are several scenes, mostly the ones between Bogart and his wife, Beth, where it was impossible to hear exactly what the characters were saying. It was so bad that I actually had turn on the closed captioning to catch a lot of dialogue.

The performances are a matter of taste. Jeremy Jordan's performance as Bogart was a little overripe for my tastes. Michelle Monaghan tries to make her thankless role of Beth worth investing in. There is strong work from Lyndsey Fonseca as KISS' manager who has an affair with Bogart and Jay Pharoah and Dan Fogler as other Casablanca employees, but this film is an overlong and sometimes dull film experience that didn't endear me to the subject at all.