Written by Patrick Hao
Not to be Christopher Nolan, but movies can function as a magic trick. Sure, you can start poking around any logical fallacies or explanations, but to truly enjoy the experience is to allow yourself to be immersed in the hands of a capable director or magician. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes might be one of the best movies as a magic trick in recent memory.
The feature debut of Junto Yamaguchi, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes takes place entirely in a café and apartment upstairs. Shot in a faux one-take style in the vein of 1917 or Birdman, the film follows Kato (Kazunori Tosa) a café owner who notices that the café television set is broadcasting the future to his computer screen. The kicker is that the computer screen can only see two minutes into the future and is limited by what the television set sees.
This leads to a rambunctious series of events and time loops as Kato’s employee, Megumi (Aki Asakura), and a cast of café regulars (Riko Fujitani, Gota Ishida, Suwa Masashi) discovers the “Time TV.” Due to the limitations, the characters run up and down between the apartment and the café to learn about the future and give the future to their past selves. It’s amazing that watching the winsome group of characters perform the same routine repeatedly never gets tiresome.
Shot on a meager $50,000 budget, Yamaguchi’s film follows the sketch comedy logic of “if this is true then what else must be true.” The one take nature of the film’s editing makes the film feel like live theater in that the actors had a sense of play in their performances. Yamaguchi allows his characters to tease out, experiment, and discover the natural limitations the situation presents them – an aspect that always seems to be absent in other time travel movies. This is also the perfect way to seamlessly ingrain the exposition of the rules into the film. Soon the characters begin thinking of ways to exploit this power that is comically not too powerful. There is only so much you can learn in two minutes.
Despite the two simultaneous gimmicks – the time travel and one-shot aspect – the film is never engulfed by it. Yamaguchi keeps a lighthearted tone throughout but does not shy away from more heady themes of predestination. It is interesting the way the characters make the decisions of their future selves to not disrupt time. And at less than 70 minutes, the film is the perfect length: brisk and never wearing out its welcome.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is the perfect kind of festival discovery. The film embraced the limitations of its budget and sets to make something creative and fun. By the end, I was so in awe of the film’s precision that I never once questioned the film’s premise and just embraced the experience. That is true magic.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes Trailer