A technical marvel of a film Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is an example of what can be done with low budget filmmaking. The skills of everyone involved in making this film work needs to be applauded; best of all, it is a brilliantly entertaining film.
Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a cafe owner in Kyoto, Japan, who lives above his café in an apartment block. One evening, after closing the café for the night, Kato is in his room when suddenly he appears on his own computer screen. The Kato on the screen is using the computer from downstairs in the cafe and claims to be from two minutes in the future. Kato is understandably confused and sceptical, but things get strange when he goes down to the cafe computer, sees himself sitting back in his room, and begins to deliver the same message he heard two minutes before.
Such is the intricacy of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes that, at times (especially early on), you are just left slack-jawed by how impressive it is. Those two minutes are so exact that you could put a stopwatch on it to see if it is right. In fact, in the end, credit scenes, it appears as if the production crew do, in fact, do this. As Kato’s friends explore this new paradox and expand upon the two minutes, things become even more astounding. This involves the script to be so tightly written that you will immediately want to watch the film again to see if they got the timings correct.
Director/Cinematographer/Editor Junta Yamaguchi has made one hell of a picture here. Each scene practically needs to be filmed more than once to ensure that we see both, sometimes three sides of the conversations between the past, present, future, future future and so on, selves of these characters amazes. As said, there is an intricacy here that is not present in very many films seen, and you sense that there was a wonderful joy in filming and planning Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Having the film feel like it is happening in real-time helps keep the film moving along nicely and adds to the marvel of how this was achieved.
Yamaguchi and writer Makoto Ueda know when to end their film. This could be a sprawling two-hour long endeavour, and while you would happily keep watching it for that length of time, it wouldn’t feel as fluid. However, by keeping the runtime under 70 minutes, it is a sprint to the finish type film, and honestly, it is perfect the way it is with nothing requiring trimming to improve on it. It says all it needs to say and is done. Additionally, Ueda never tries to confuse the audience. This could be a challenging film to get across. While there are blocks of exposition, there has been a considerable effort to make it as natural as possible.
The stakes are raised just enough midway through the film to bring some repercussions to Kato and his friends after they go that bit too far with their new discovery. Yet, the film’s tone never changes enough to cause a fracture in the two halves and allows the film to keep its charming, lighthearted tone. Other films would take a darker turn at the point that repercussions need to be made, but Ueda and Yamaguchi have little interest in that; this isn’t that type of film and thank goodness for it.
An interesting subplot comes around as well in the film. It allows the audience to ask themselves a similar question, if you found yourself in a similar situation would you do exactly what your future self told you to do because they have done it. You do not want to mess with the paradox that has been created? Would you alter it and create a butterfly effect if you didn’t like the outcome? It is a heavy theme wrapped in this lighthearted film, but one that is asked and leaves you pondering.
It would also be remiss not to discuss the cast here as everyone does some great work to make sure they make their cues on time and make sure their performances are identical to what was recorded in each set-up. As intricate as the filmmaking is, the acting also has to be on such a high level to make Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes work as smoothly and gloriously as it does. The cast is filled with members of the theatre group Europe Kikaku who delight at every moment with their slightly hammy performances, but considering the film’s tone, it works.
The sheer inventiveness of this concept takes your breath away and then brings a smile to your face. This is what filmmaking and cinema are about, trying to create something so unique and special that it has grasped your audience’s attention. Yamaguchi marks himself as a filmmaker we need to see more of immediately. There can be little more said about a film that just smashes it out of the park; watch Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes immediately and be prepared to watch it again right after; it really is that brilliant.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is available now across a digital and cable platforms.
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