Fincher’s Timberlake Music Video is a Cinematography Masterpiece

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 18.48.12This valentines day release of Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie music video may have marked the end of a six-year hiatus from music, but really it’s yet another cinematic treat from David Fincher. In recent years Fincher has become a well known champion of digital cinematography and helped pioneer the field with the likes of other directors such as Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City, Machete) and Stephen Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Side Effects). Here he uses the RED Epic-M Monochrome cameras with a 5K sensor capable of capturing 1 to 120 frames per second at full resolution. Considering your average cinema is projecting films in 2K, or if you’re lucky 4K resolution, that’s pretty impressive.

Timberlake got to know Fincher while making The Social Network, where he played silicone valley ego maniac Sean Parker. I’d have to assume here that Timberlake was aware of Fincher’s earlier career, pre-Fight Club, as a music video director. I personally was not aware of this myself, and only found out by shear coincidence, after thinking that Suit and Tie had a similar feel to Madonna’s Vogue music video. Which of course, turned out to be another Fincher directed music video. Not only that, but it turns out he was probably the biggest and best music video director around in the 90’s. Check out the clip below, from the MTV Music Video Awards 1990, in which he was nominated for THREE different videos in the Best Director category. He gets awarded the statuette by a slightly younger Oliver Stone. Back in the day when he was just about cool enough to attend an MTV awards show and score some white lines off Tupac backstage:

So it seems quite natural for him to take a step back into music video territory, even if it is to test out the latest in digital cinematography. Suit and Tie looks crisp in black and white, fitting in well with the rat pack 50’s style of the cigar smoke-filled lounges. The opening scene, with perfectly placed whisky glass on the piano, reflects the light in all directions, as JT glides onto the stage catwalk. Perfectly cut in time with the music and flips swiftly between an audience perspective, looking up into a giant well-lit arena, then back to a dark silhouette facing the audience. Fincher then takes us into the recording studio where every little detail, down to the jet black colour of the guitars, hats, drum kit are all perfectly selected to show up the monochrome aspect of the video. Speaking of which, all the suits were styled by Tom Ford, a fashion house designer-turned director (A Single Man). Another director with a high attention to detail and OCD-like perfection. Apart from that, you’ve got a slick tune, Jay-Z and visuals to make you forget the inevitable death of film and rise of digital cinema.



  1. lifebetweenfilms says:

    Wait… what? I’m a huge Fincher fan and I didn’t know he directed Vogue! I think that elevates my fandom now 🙂 He’s looks so young in the MTV clip! I also thought that JT’s video was beautifully done. Not a huge lover of the song but of the video yes.

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