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Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” comes out today. Bolstered by non-stop television appearances (including his CW special tonight) it looks like the title will sell at least 500,000 copies in its opening frame, making it the best first week of any album in 2013.
Reviews have ranged from stellar to moderate. In my HitFix review, I wrote: “At its best, “The 20/20 Experience” feels like its own invention: an exploration into what it means to take the traditional confines of pop and then see how far those boundaries can be pushed...At its worst, “The 20/20 Experience” feel like sets of unfinished lab experiments stretched far too thin. Every one of the 10 tunes here creeps up to or surpasses the seven-minute mark, often to their own detriment.”
How are other critics seeing it? Here’s what some major outlets have to say about “The 20/20 Experience.”
AP’s Mesfin Fekadu calls “The 20/20 Experiment” “a brilliant piece of work that plays like a musical movement. The 10 tracks (which average seven minutes) weave into one another beautifully as his falsetto glides over each beat. It's an unconventional adventure that makes your bones groove. Seriously.
It's hard to think of another performer who can make a seven-minute track continuously engaging and refreshing, especially at a time when a five-minute song screams "problem" for radio stations and our attention span gets shorter with every tweet or text.
Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz says, “Six-and-a-half years after effectively conquering pop music with a highly sexual, fashionably futuristic album, Justin Timberlake has returned as a more relaxed version of himself, with a brand new palette of musical shades...The propulsive moans and aggressive come-ons of his 2006 smash single "Sexyback," for instance, have been traded for big-band brass, creeping bass and open-hearted professions of love
The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica is not a fan: “He could have made a cabaret standards album, an acoustic singer-songwriter folk record, a ghastly dance-music immersion, a pseudo-Drake sing-rap hybrid. Any of those would have been more risky and more distinctive than what ended up on “The 20/20 Experience,” an amiable, anodyne album that hopes not to alienate anyone but also doesn’t offer new reasons to commit. It’s an album of largely inconsequential beauty, showing Mr. Timberlake as an artist with no incentive to innovate, making this primarily a paean to brand maintenance.
Vibe’s Clover Hope is similarly not entranced: At its best, 20/20 is a reliable product in a Justin Timberlake assembly line. You’ll find great records—the bedroom soul-trip “Spaceship Coupe” and “Tunnel Vision,” the track you’d say, “This again?” to, if it was released as a lead single instead of “Suit & Tie”—as well as some groan moments: “I can’t wait to get you home and get you in my veins,” a metaphor on “Pusher Love Girl.”
USA Today’s Elysa Gardner appreciates the tag-team approach: “Justin Timberlake's first studio album in nearly seven years is a tribute to two of the most important people in his life: Jessica Biel and Timbaland — though not necessarily in that order....The new collection picks up where 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds left off and, eventually, explores love and sex from the perspective of a more mature chap. Timbaland is the R&B savant with whom Timberlake has teamed on most of his best material since shedding the bubblegum stigma of 'N Sync.
The good news for those who like "The 20/20 Experience" is there's more coming later this year. After Questlove spilled the beans that the new album was only the first half, Timberlake confirmed to reporters, according to Reuters, that a second half would, indeed, come out in 2013.
Chalk this up as some instantly legendary Hollywood news. Lynne Ramsay has no-showed Natalie Portman western "Jane Got a Gun" on day one of shooting out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As Mike Fleming writes in his exclusive report, directors leaving production is hardly unheard of, but not showing up on the very first day is a bit, uh, unique.
Okay, it's insane enough to be thinking of this year's potential Oscar contenders, but here's one gourmet prospect to chalk up for next year. Though still in pre-production, Mike Leigh's long-fostered passion project, a currently untitled biopic of eminent British painter J.M.W. Turner, has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. (If my headline had you thinking he'd remade "What's Love Got To Do With It," I'll presume you're unfamiliar with Leigh's work.)
Henry Bromell, who worked as a writer and producer on some of the most interesting dramas of the last 20 years, has died of a heart attack, as first reported by Deadline. He was 65.
Bromell most recently was part of the "Homeland" writing staff, a murderers' row of former showrunners. Among his credited episodes was season 2's "Q and A," featuring the extended interrogation of Nicholas Brody. It was an episode hearkening back to one of Bromell's earliest jobs in television, as a writer/producer on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Over the course of his career, Bromell worked on "Homicide," "Homeland," "I'll Fly Away," "Chicago Hope," "Carnivale," "Brotherhood" and "Rubicon," among others. Sometimes, as on "Homeland," he was part of the staff; other times, like "Rubicon" (where he was brought in after the pilot to replace the creator), he was the man in charge.
Twentieth Century Fox TV and Fox 21, the studios which produce "Homeland," put out a statement saying, "We were lucky to work with Henry on and off for the past 18 years. He was a supremely talented writer and as kind and warm a person as you could ever meet. He will be deeply missed at the studio and on 'Homeland.' Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and children."
UPDATE: Showtime's statement: "We are deeply saddened at the loss of our dear friend Henry Bromell, who has been a part of the Showtime family for over a decade. Henry was an immensely talented and prolific writer, director and showrunner, and his work on 'Brotherhood' and 'Homeland' was nothing short of brilliant. His passion, warmth, humor and generosity will be greatly missed. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his wife and family."
A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I'm a cricket player who secretly hates his life...
I haven't read the novel by Jean Hanff Koreltiz that served as the source material for the new film "Admission," but Karen Croner's screenplay is one of those films where the lead characters are ostensibly smart people who do some oddly not-so-smart things for reasons that seem less than genuine. I wouldn't call "Admission" a bad film, but I think it's a muted pleasure at best, even with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd both doing their best to keep things light and charming.
Fey stars as Portia Nathan, who works at Princeton as one of the gatekeepers who help decide who gets into the school and who doesn't. Portia is portrayed as one of those people who has no real life outside of her job as the film begins, and she seems fine with that. Her devotion is one of the reasons she ends up as a candidate to replace her boss (Wallace Shawn), the department head who is about to retire. All she has to do is buckle down for one more admissions season, do her job as well as she always has, and then reap the rewards.
As Lana on the second season of "American Horror Story," Sarah Paulson had to take a character from naive idealism to battle-scarred warrior. I spoke to the actress at Paleyfest, and she talked about what it takes to create a tough cookie character who can go head-to-head with not one, but two serial killers.