Shot safely in the confines of a building with a first floor café during the 2020 pandemic, Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes introduces Kato (Kazunori Tosa), a café owner struggling to spread the word and get his band off the ground. After leaving home for the day to his upstairs apartment, he spots himself on his television monitor, effectively communicating with his future-self two minutes from then with a monitor in the café.
The ordeal snowballs out of control when Kato’s friends each get curious about what they can learn or benefit from seeing the future, exacerbating an already potentially precarious moment for space-time, and leaving Kato wearily panicked and trying to wait out the situation after initially believing it was just a dream. What happens next presents a cautionary forewarning for Kato and friends as the result of getting too far ahead of themselves after consulting with their future-selves’, when Megumi (Aki Asakura), the next door store clerk he likes, gets whisked into a time loop that’s looking more and more grim the further into the future his friends see.
I’ve had my eye on director Junta Yamaguchi’s latest film a time or several this year during its run at the festivals, and I finally got to check it out for myself during Fantasia’s hybrid 25th run this month. It’s not everyday you get to see a film like Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes – conceptually there are films that touch on time travel, and the causes and effects thereof through interesting and sometimes colorful characters.
The rarity comes when a high concept work is executed with such erudition on minimal means. In the case of Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes, alongside Fantasia programmer’s mention of One Cut Of The Dead and Tenet for the film’s use of one-take storytelling, I’m thinking those films, by way of, say, Paycheck (but without the blockbuster spectacle, terrible soundtrack and stale acting), and coupled with just a little more ingenuity than some filmmakers nowadays wish they had.
Whatever the case or the examples may be to one’s liking, Yamaguchi and Kyoto-based acting troupe Europe Kikaku put this theory into action forthwith, and indeed, with nothing more than an iPhone, small and dedicated AF crew, some creative elbow grease and a little leg work, you too can pull the kind of magic Yamaguchi and screenwriter Makoto Ueda do. Done right, and beyond any and all award fare, the result can be phenomenal, genuine and pure cinematic poetry, with lots of laughs and even more heart.