Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

At the end of an average workday, Kyoto cafe owner Kato (Kazunari Tosa, "Prisoners of the Ghostland") leaves his employee Aya (Riko Fujitani) who jokes about a safe trip home.  Kato lives in a small apartment above his shop where he begins to play his guitar, practicing for a show with his band.  But something really strange interrupts him, himself talking to him from a monitor from what appears to be the café.  Café Kato tells apartment Kato that he is two minutes in the future and advises him to check it out himself on the time-linked café TV in “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes.”

Laura's Review: B

This 70 minute, one take time travel comedy written by its theatrical ensemble Europe Kikaku’s Makoto Ueda works its premise for all its worth without overstaying its welcome, only to reveal it was a meet cute romance all along.  The film is so reminiscent of Shinichirou Ueda's "One Cut of the Dead," I initially thought it must come from the same filmmaker, but have been unable to find a link between the two Uedas.  The complex shoot was shepherded by director/cinematographer/editor Junta Yamaguchi, and he and Ueda stay true to time travel’s rules while offering plenty of laughs and insights into human behavior.

Sure enough, when Kota goes downstairs, he watches himself try to find his guitar pick, then tells his two minute younger self where to look and what he just heard himself say.  Aya is giddily fascinated, but warns him that Komiya (Gôta Ishida), a guy involved in Kato’s music how, is right outside.  Soon, not only is Komiya thrilling to the unusual circumstances, but Tanabe (Masashi Suwa) and Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai) get involved too.

The boisterous group delights in running up and downstairs, playing pranks on themselves and others.  When they begin to seriously consider benefits to ‘knowing the future,’ like the clichéd idea of horse racing results, they realize two minutes is really limiting.  Then a box of Droste hot chocolate, which sports a young woman holding that same box, an image that continues into infinity, inspires Ozawa, who convinces the gang to bring the upstairs monitor downstairs and turn it to face the café TV.  Voila!  But worrying problems soon arise, like Kato discovering his future self lied to him about the barbers’ daughter he crushes on, Megumi (Aki Asakura, "Summer Blooms").  While Kato retreats in a funk, things escalate with two Yakuza, Narita (Haruki Nakagawa) and Kinjo (Munenori Nagano), furious at having been victims of the group’s time tripping. 

Most ‘single take’ movies usually involve multiple long takes stitched together in ways to trick the eye and Yamaguchi and his cast either really pulled this off in 70 minutes or the filmmaker has excelled with a seamless editing job.  One must admire the complex choreography involved here, with gangs of five and more moving from floor to floor (characters leave the café and return, but the camera does not).  The whole is breathlessly paced, the better to hide any lapses in time travel logic although Ueda, whose screenplays include 2005’s “Summertime Time Machine Blues” and the current television series ‘Tatami Time Machine Blues’ clearly has a penchant for the genre.  He’s also found a delightful way to resolve everything.

“Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” is the type of movie that should have you grinning throughout – it’s an adorably amusing brain teaser with an effervescent cast.

Robin's Review: B

The owner of a rundown café makes an amazing discovery: he gets a message from himself that his TV set shows the future, but just two minutes ahead of time. He and his friends see the discovery as a way to have some fun and, maybe, make a lot of easy money in “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes.”
I have been a science-fiction fan since I was a kid and the time travel paradox has always been my most favorite of sci-fi storylines. I was intrigued by the two-minute ahead in time limitation and was grandly curious to see where the filmmakers would go with this premise.

The result, by first-time feature director-cinematographer-editor Junta Yamaguchi and scribe Makoto Ueda, is a wacky and fast-paced time travel comedy that, for the first time in a film, explains the Droste effect (look it up). And, the movie is best when the players learn about their time machine and play with it. The makers throw in a side story about the mob and ill-gotten cash that is a little distracting but the sci-fi time rift playfulness wins out.

There have been a number of time travel movies over the decades, like “The Time Machine (1960).” But, none have put a smile on my face that lasted from start to finish as it did with “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes.”

Indiecan Entertainment releases “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes on digital and VOD on 1/25/22.