Overly Long But Worthy Story On The Rise of Disco

Apr 1, 2023

In the early 1970s, Casablanca Records took the industry by storm as it rose to one of the most successful independent American labels of its time. With talents like Donna Summer, Kiss, and Cher, it’s unsurprising the world, during that time, had a disco craze. What’s lesser known is the genius behind the label who made it all happen. His name was Neil Bogart. With all his faults, addictions, and habits, there was something special about Bogart. He believed in his artists, not because he had to but because he truly believed in their talents. To bring Neil’s story to life in Spinning Gold, who better to tell it than his son, film and TV producer Timothy Scott Bogart?

Bogart directs and pens the script for his biographical drama to celebrate the rise of disco and the man who made it all happen. In his feature debut, Bogart captures his father’s legacy from the beginning to the very end. In this story, Neil (Jeremy Jordan), along with a young team of music lovers, rewrites history and changes the music industry forever. Blending stylistic performances with flashbacks of a young man who dreamed big, this history lesson is a celebration worth seeing. The script doesn’t always hit the mark, but Spinning Gold is satisfying even if mostly due to the great music it celebrates.

Related: Spinning Gold Sees Record Execs Fight Over Johnny Carson & Donna Summer

Ledisi and Jeremy Jordan in Spinning Gold

The storytelling approach isn’t always the most straightforward. It often fluctuates between past, present and fantasy, which would make it difficult to follow along if not for the voiceover narration to guide viewers along. Sometimes, it works and other times it’s an inconvenience; but the final product would have been better with more consistency. Underneath this celebratory story about music and legacy is a character study of a man with big dreams. Though his gambling habits (on his artists and less so at a poker table) would often get the best of him, his desire for his artists’ success is something to be admired. When a person is that confident and passionate for others, it’s irresistible. And chances are, viewers will feel that way about Neil Bogart.

If there’s anything to know about Spinning Gold, it’s that the main priority is to celebrate the music that got a whole generation (and then some) to dance. In doing so, however, the film takes an overindulgent amount of time going through Casablanca’s history. For example, it focuses on nearly all the artists that have come through the company. From the long-lasting talents with multiple hits on the charts to the one-hit wonders, Bogart’s script highlights them all. A more intentional selection would have worked best, where a select group of artists is highlighted to show the rise and fall of the independent company. It would have also helped to reduce the dreadfully long runtime, which at times feels like a chore to get through.

Jeremy Jordan and Michelle Monaghan in Spinning Gold

Clocking in at 137 minutes may be enough to deter viewers from watching Spinning Gold, but it is Jeremy Jordan’s performance as Neil Bogart that may get audiences to reconsider. Anytime Jordan gets to demonstrate his vocal talents, it’s already a feature (or television show) worth seeing. In this feature, he elevates his performance further by truly giving his all to the acting, more than he’s done before, proving that he can carry a big picture. Since the feature includes so many side characters, including big-name artists to represent the talent that came through Casablanca, such as Wiz Khalifa (George Clinton), Jason Derulo (Ron Isley), and Pink Sweat$ (Bill Withers), not much can be said about their performances other than they were adequate. However, Michelle Monaghan stands out, as she always does, as Neil’s wife Beth, giving a layered performance that demands one’s attention.

Above all, Bogart’s biographical drama is clear on honoring his father’s legacy and the gift of disco music Bogart left with fans of those classic 1970s sounds. The film is certainly worth a watch simply for the music and the entertaining aspect of its storytelling. And while it doesn’t always hit the mark throughout its long runtime, the portrayal of such big names like Donna Summer (Tayla Parx), Gladys Knight (Ledisi), and Gene Simmons (Case Likes) are enough to reel in the attention of its viewers. Neil Bogart may have gambled recklessly with the livelihood of Casablanca Records, but the end result, as depicted in Spinning Gold, is a world in which great music exists, and that’s worth celebrating.

Spinning Gold released in limited theaters on March 31. The film is 137 minutes long and rated R for some sexual material, drug use, pervasive language, and nudity.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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