Time travel movies are a lot like zombie movies. You think you’ve seen it all, that the well has run dry on the subgenre, and there are no new stories to tell. You’re always wrong. You’re always spectacularly wrong, and you’re always reminded just how wrong you are when a movie like Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes comes barreling into your life. One Cut of The Dead was another one of those movies and similarly, Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes is presented as a single-take story. Shot in one uninterrupted cut (okay, there is one quick cut at the title card and maybe one other cut in the third act but whatevs), Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes is a super fun and utterly charming low-budget sci-fi about the dangers of looking into the future for personal gain.
Directed, edited, and photographed by Junta Yamaguchi from a screenplay by Makoto Ueda, Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes is the first feature from the Japanese theatre group Europe Kikaku and that theatre training is really integral to the project. The film’s one-take approach helps highlight the magic of what they’re pulling off, and it really does feel like a magic trick happening right before your eyes. You follow the characters as they run from location to location in the present interacting with their past and future selves, all in 2-minute cycles. Precision is paramount because of that method and you’ll see the crew clocking scenes with a stopwatch in behind-the-scenes footage during the credits. With such an incredibly talented team it’s a perfectly mixed cocktail of theatre and cinema, reaching (I believe) the heights of both mediums simultaneously.
The setup is simple. Cafe Owner Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is unwinding in his apartment when he hears someone calling his name. The voice is coming from his computer and…it’s him! Not a video of himself, but a live video call with himself standing in the cafe below his apartment. There’s a two-minute time delay between the feeds so, as he explains, he’s talking with himself in the very near future. After two minutes of confusing back-and-forth, he goes downstairs and repeats the conversation, trying his best to carry out his end word for word. He can’t make any sense of what is going on and neither can his friends. You always call friends over to take a look when you discover a time loop. That’s rule #1. Rule #2 is: Don’t misuse your newfound ability to look into the future to manipulate the past. A rule the group breaks very quickly despite Kato‘s insistence that they simply turn the screens off and live in the present.
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If you’re interested in time travel movies, and you watch every single one you can get your hands on, there can be a bit of a Groundhog Day effect. When you obsess over any subgenre, it will often times feel like you’re watching the same movie over and over again. Boy meets time loop…boy abuses time-loop for personal gain…boy suffers consequences of time-loop. There have been some notable exceptions lately. Films like Jon Mikel Caballero’s The Incredible Shrinking Wknd as well as the Netflix series’ Russian Doll and Dark, but by and large the time-travel subgenre is fairly formulaic. I love them all just the same, but it’s rare for a new time-travel movie to be as truly unique and surprising as Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes. It’s like a philosophical thought experiment peppered with the light-hearted humor of a romantic comedy and a high-concept narrative that gives Tenet a run for its money.
You may not be able to time travel, but you can leave your future self a gift right now by adding Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes to your watchlist. Heck, while you’re at it, why not take your future self’s advice and watch it as soon as possible. This charming one-take masterpiece (shot entirely on an iPhone!) is playing at Fantasia August 5 – 25 as part of the festival’s OnDemand program.
And remember, If you’re as enamored with travel-travel movies as I am, you’re already living in a world where you’ve watched Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes. Future You loved it, and Present You will love it too. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that you do risk creating a time loop paradox by not carrying out the actions dictated by your future self, so you might want to make this movie a priority on your to-do list. Life as we know it could be ripped apart into a million pieces if you don’t watch it…..Or not. I mean, it is only a movie. But a movie that is sure to put a smile on your smile and scratch a very nerdy itch deep inside your time-travel obsessed brain.
“…a super fun and utterly charming low-budget sci-fi […] with the light-hearted humor of a romantic comedy and a high-concept narrative that gives Tenet a run for it’s money.”
The Europe Kikaku theatre group’s Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes celebrated its North American premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Click HERE to follow all of our festival coverage, and be sure to let us know what you would do if you were contacted by your future self over on Twitter, in the official Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!