With Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, (Droste no hate de bokura), writer Makoto Ueda (Summer Time Machine Blues, Penguin Highway) and first time director Junta Yamaguchi take an idea that sounds like it would make a perfect short and take it to feature length. Surprisingly it not only works but is one of the better “one take” films as well as possibly the most enjoyable time travel film since Mega Time Squad.
Kato (Kazunari Tosa, Prisoners of the Ghostland) owns a café but aspires to be a musician. He also has a crush on Megumi (Aki Asakura, Fullmetal Alchemist, Blood-Club Dolls 1) who works at a nearby barber shop but is too shy to ask her out. Just as he’s about to begin another lonely night practicing his guitar playing, a voice calls to him from his computer’s monitor. It’s himself, two minute in the future.
It seems the closed circuit link between the café downstairs and his apartment is acting like a time machine, albeit one with a very limited range. From here events just continually snowball as first his waitress Aya (Riko Fujitani, Asahinagu) and then his friends Komiya (Gota Ishida, Shady), Tanabe (Masashi Suwa, Go Find a Psychic!), and Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai, The Woman of S.R.I.) find out about it and try to find a way to make money off of it.
Watching this gang of likeable twentysomethings running up and down the stairs excitedly trying to figure the situation out is amusing, but if that was all there was it would quickly wear thin. It’s after Ozawa gets the idea to face the two monitors at each other, creating a Droste effect in order to see further into the future that Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes really takes off. By the time it’s all over not only Megumi but a pair of Yakuza thugs and raygun wielding cops from the future will become involved.
When I said that Yamaguchi was a first time director I meant that literally, he hadn’t directed so much as a short before Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Which makes it all the more impressive that this film, with all of it’s intricate image within image sequences, was shot in one take on an iPhone. The amount of planning and blocking required to make sure nothing accidentally ended up on the monitors alone would be a daunting task for a first timer.
But Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is more than just an impressive technical achievement. It’s a genuinely funny film with some inventive plotting that also had to be carefully done to avoid violating the film’s rules of time travel. And even more importantly, not exceed the film’s budget. The result is a film that’s part inventive low budget science fiction, part rowdy comedy and part love story as Kato and Megumi are brought together amidst all the chaos.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes also has a message about living in the present rather than obsessing over the past or future. As the group obsesses over seeing, and profiting, from what’s to come Megumi is still haunted by an ex who was also a musician while Kato is still trying to recover from both Nostradamus and the Mayans getting the end of the world wrong. And that has to be one of the more unique reasons for living a dysfunctional life in cinematic history.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes played as part of this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival. Indiecan will release it in the US and Canada sometime in 2022 after it’s festival run. You can check their website for more information. It’s currently available in the UK via Third Window Films.