Fans of David Fincher received a much-anticipated Valentine’s Day treat this morning when the video for Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s “Suit & Tie” dropped. It may be a surprise to some that the retro, black-and-white video was directed by the stylish auteur behind “Zodiac,” “Se7en,” “Fight Club,” “The Social Network,” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” but to those familiar with the director’s work, it is a welcome return to form.
Fincher is among a cadre of directors who honed their craft in music videos before making their entrée into features. Working for the video-production company Propaganda Films during the late 80s and 90s at the height of MTV, Fincher directed work for the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Billy Idol, Aerosmith, and Nine Inch Nails, among others.
In honor of his welcome return to music videos, here’s a look back at five of our favorite Fincher videos that show the notoriously perfectionistic director developing a style all his own.
1. Madonna, “Vogue” (1990)
An obvious forerunner to “Suit & Tie,” this black-and-white, Art Deco video for the dance-pop hit has been ranked by some critics as one of the best music videos of all time. Recalling the golden age of Hollywood, Madonna does her Marilyn Monroe thing to a T and Fincher explores his love of shadow.
2. Nine Inch Nails “Only” (2005)
This stylish silver-hued video relies heavily on CGI to explore the potential novelty of desk accessories and Trent Reznor’s face in Pin Art form. Reznor and Fincher have been frequent collaborators ever since Fincher laid the NIN hit “Closer” over the title sequence in “Se7en.”
3. Aerosmith “Janie’s Got a Gun” (1990)
In perfect keeping with Fincher’s noir sensibilities, the video for the grim song “Janie’s Got a Gun” explores child abuse and murder. Fincher indulges in the use of flashlights which become a signature in films like “Se7en, “Panic Room,” and “Zodiac.”
4. Billy Idol “Cradle of Love” (1990)
A pretty young thing attempts the ultimate seduction of her older neighbor in this playfully excessive video. Fincher shoots Idol exclusively from the waste up to hide the fact that the star’s legs were in braces from a motorcycle accident.
5. Madonna “Bad Girl” (1993)
Christopher Walken plays guardian angel to Madonna’s depressed alcoholic executive in this perfectly strange narrative video. Madonna’s murder by pantyhose at the end was criticized at the time as misogynistic, but we think it’s just a reflection of Fincher’s twisted penchant for serial killers.