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  •  REVIEW: NOW OR NEVER

      Now or Never
    Endless summit

    "Now or Never" shows a group of hard-partying college students gearing up to protest the Genoa G8 summit, in a portrayal that's as honest about the radicals' mixed motives as it is about their fate at the hands of violent Italian police.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com


    Look at the ridiculous college radicals with their protest marches and earnest idealism and sex-crazed drunken parties. They think they're having fun, but that's not fun. Wait until they grow up and learn what real life is like.

    NOW OR NEVER
    Original title: Ora O Mai PiŁ.
    Directed by: Lucio Pellegrini.
    Written by: Angelo Carbone, Roan Johnson, Lucio Pellegrini.
    Cast: Jacopo Bonvicini, Violante Placido, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Elio Germano, Camilla Filippi, Riccardo Scamarcio, Francesco Mandelli, Toni Bertorelli, Thomas Trabacchi, Roan Johnson, Griet van Damme, Lucia Vasini .
    Cinematography: Gherardo Gossi.
    Edited by: Walter Fasano.
    In Italian with English subtitles.
     SCHEDULE
    Walter Reade Theater Lincoln Center, 65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam (212) 875-5600 Sat June 5: 2; Mon June 7: 3:15; Thurs June 10: 3

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    It's easy to think something like that about young people's political passions when you're older and have a mortgage and a minivan, but "Now or Never" ("Ora O Mai PiŁ") looks clear-eyed at a group of student protesters leading up to the violent 2001 G8 summit in Genoa and comes up with a knockout story by taking these angry young men and women seriously. As might be said of radical students anywhere, they're not just about politics — they're caught up in a giddy hurricane of comradeship, frantic action and out-of-control hormones — but the enemy they're up against proves more real and blackhearted than they probably imagine.

    We see the movement through the eyes of David, a graduate student in physics who no more dreams of taking on world capitalism than slaying Goliath — until he catches a glimpse of the beautiful, pamphlet-distributing Viola. David proves to have a gift for motivational rhetoric, and quickly becomes a leader of the group of Pisa students. The job cuts sharply into his studies but it comes with perks like free-flowing wine and topless beauties.

    The older brother of another leader, David's friend Luca, advises them to stop acting like naive jerks.

    "We want to change things step by step!" protests Luca. "We're in it for the long haul!"

    "Long haul?" his brother scoffs. "Five years and you'll be all work and family like me."

    He could well be right. But the film is about a moment — it's about everything good and bad, absurd and true, in that time when ideals matter and the intoxication of mad rebellion takes hold before falling away. In many lives, this moment will amount to nothing but some slogans chanted, some signs held aloft, some friendships made and abandoned; in this story, however, there is a cataclysmic event that pulls the story — and the lives — into sharp focus. The confessions of torture that emerged after the summit are searingly rendered and give an emotional bedrock to a story that seems to be bouncing along at the speed of MTV.

    Globalization issues are primarily a backdrop for a personal story in "Now or Never," but they are a big part of what the filmmakers want us to know. Far from being an abstract academic subject, global economics has become a street-level conflict in which secret meetings are held behind closed doors and heads are cracked in the streets. Genoa made only a small impact on the American consciousness (one Genoa protester was famously killed by police as he prepared to heave a fire extinguisher at an SUV; other stories of wrongful arrests and planted evidence have been more successfully covered up), but it seems to have been more of a defining event for Europeans. The people in power have not forgotten Genoa either — they now plot the future of mankind from fortified compounds and remote islands where mankind won't get in the way. Americans shouldn't forget either, and "Now or Never" is an unflinching reminder of that reality.

    JUNE 1, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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