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Robert Longo’s Johnny Mnemonic

FOR A WHILE ROBERT LONGO’S work has struggled against the perception that it emblematizes (in somehow the wrong way) the excesses of the evil ’80s. A more congenial take—borne out by his newly released feature film Johnny Mnemonic—would make his oeuvre one of the first and strongest expressions of the cyberpunk genre in the realm of static art.

It’s been the talk of the town for a while now, all these art stars rushing out to make movies: Larry Clark, Matthew Barney, David Salle, Julian Schnabel (in preproduction on Build a Fort, Set It on Fire, about Jean-Michel Basquiat), and, coming soon, Cindy Sherman. Of all these projects, Johnny may have the best box-office legs. For a first-time director, the credits roll like a list of coups: in a screenplay by the seminal cyberpunk novelist William Gibson, and based on Gibson’s own first short story, an engagingly geeky Keanu Reeves embarks on a

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