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L Entries
Elsa Lanchester
Martin Landau
Robert Lansing
Glen A. Larson
Jack Larson
Christopher Lee
Mark Lenard
John Lennon
John Lithgow
June Lockhart
Robert Longo
Peter Lorre
Eugene Lourie
George Lucas
Bela Lugosi
William Lundigan
 
LONGO, ROBERT
(1953– ). American artist and director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Directed: "This'll Kill Ya" (1992), episode of Tales from the Crypt; Johnny Mnemonic (1995).

Directed music videos: "Bizarre Love Triangle" (1986); "The One I Love" (1987),

Appeared in: The Making of Johnny Mnemonic (short documentary) (1995).

 
Robert Longo was, and remains, primarily a noted artist, and his work in that field is of course outside my purview. But in the 1980s, when music videos were exploding as a new art form, someone thought that he might be an effective director, and the results were several striking videos distinguished by rapid-fire cutting, bizarre montages of images both familiar and strange, and eerie use of unusual colors. It is a matter of taste as to whether one might classify any or all of these as fantastic cinema, but New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," with recurring images of falling men who never reach the ground, and R.E.M.'s "The One I Love," with miniature explosions superimposed on everyday scenes, would to me appear to be of marginal genre relevance.

However, he merits attention here primarily because someone else surely watched "Bizarre Love Triangle," with its gritty footage juxtaposed with kaleidoscopic animation, and decided that he would be the perfect choice to direct William GIBSON's film adaptation of his short story "Johnny Mnemonic." With only an episode of Tales of the Crypt to serve as a formal apprenticeship, many must have regarded this as a risky decision, given the amounts of money involved in the project. Still, despite many contrary opinions that I have read, I believe that Longo acquitted himself quite well by directing what was, in most respects, a more than satisfactory film. Its visualization of a dark and nightmarish future metropolis was flawlessly executed; its animation of its hero's ventures into cyberspace were appropriately surrealistic and desperately rapid (something that even the film's detractors usually praise); and both its villains and its secondary heroes—Ice-T, Henry Rollins, and Dina MEYER—were more than persuasive in their roles. There was just one, teeny-tiny little problem, which was that Longo chose, or was forced, to employ Keanu REEVES as his star, and Reeves picked this occasion to provide the most wooden, inert performance of his career (which for Reeves is saying quite a lot); and, with a cigar store Indian as its centerpiece, the film was simply doomed to fail.

Unfairly but inevitably, Longo took the blame when the film tanked at the box office, and subsequent film offers must have been rare or nonexistent, because after Johnny Mnemonic he returned to the world of art, where he apparently remains active to this day. But someone else may someday watch that film and, looking beyond its abysmal leading actor, might decide that Longo would be the perfect choice for some new film project—such as, for example, the long-delayed film adaptation of Gibson's breakthrough novel Neuromancer. Such an assignment would represent both artistic, and poetic, justice.

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