By Reed Johnson
1:07 PM CST, February 14, 2013
In David Fincher's "The Social Network" -- the best studio film of 2010, whatever "King's Speech" partisans may argue -- Justin Timberlake was perfectly cast as a smarmy, cynical version of Napster co-founder and former Facebook President Sean Parker. It was a brilliant secondary performance by the pop idol. But what could Fincher and Timberlake do for an encore?
The answer, as if you hadn't heard, is "Suit & Tie," the new Fincher-directed video promoting the first single off Timberlake's third album, "The 20/20 Experience," scheduled for a March 19 roll-out. Among the guest-stars on the new video are Jay-Z and a bunch of bespoke Tom Ford suits.
Fincher broke into feature filmmaking as a video director, and devotees will immediately recognize several of his stylistic signatures in "Suit & Tie": the chiaroscuro lighting, the fluid editing, the subtle character-revealing facial close-ups, here frequently wreathed in plumes of cigar smoke.
The opening setting is apparently a hotel suite, where JT is scarfing down a bowl of cereal (soup?) while Jay-Z checks out some hoops on his flat-screen and chatters away. But the action quickly shifts to an Art Deco nightclub and a recording studio, where JT gets to show off his dance moves and his high, silky tenor.
Here and there, anonymous women show up, writhing and whipping their hair. Although, truth be told, JT and Jay-Z seem much more interested in their designer threads, fine-label cigars and product-placement alcohol than they do in any mere female appurtenances.
"Suit & Tie" is essentially a musical sales pitch urging guys to clean up their act -- provided they have what it takes to acquire the right must-have accessories, of course. In the usual hip-hop fashion, consumer brand-names are reverently invoked, along with the obligatory nod to the Rat Pack's louche charm and a visual reference to "Singin' in the Rain."
The video's suave look got a nice test-marketing run at Sunday's Grammy Awards, just in time for Valentine's Day. So gentlemen, start your credit cards.
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