What to Watch Verdict
'Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes' elevates well above its means as a thought-provoking science fiction mystery without a single bell or whistle.
🖥️ So much spirit
🖥️ Low budget will deter some
🖥️ Replays itself (on purpose)
🖥️ A slower sci-fi brand
Junta Yamaguchi's Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a microbudget exploration of science fiction boundaries powered by nothing but an enthusiastic cast and household monitors. It won't even cost audiences 80 minutes of their time, which is necessary with such meager intentions. Yamaguchi's screenplay requires nothing more than an after-hours café, an Apple display and an ex-boyfriend's leftover drum set cymbal to ponder the boundlessness of time travel at its grandest or slightest. Imagine Legends of Tomorrow from the perspective of the temporal anachronism culprits, so comedically innocuous that Rip Hunter would probably investigate elsewhere based on mundaneness in comparison.
Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a coffee shop owner and aspiring musician whose night becomes a Twilight Zone episode. After another day's work, Kato's television activates and a familiar voice calls out — his own. Kato balks, then converses with his duplicate self from downstairs, in the café, two minutes into the future. Kato's employee and goofball friends test the limitations of mirror reverberations through time's reflections while Kato tries to answer questions brought upon by the impossible situation. There's a lot of running upstairs and downstairs between shop and apartment, as the question becomes how two minutes can change a life.
The enchantment of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes creates the appearance of one continuous take between two primary locations (café and apartment), shot entirely on an iPhone. Who would have thought the Europe Kikaku theatre troupe could endear through handheld technology that, in practice, sacrifices no fluidity. Cinematography scampers up the dual-level steps between Kato's destinations without shakiness or unwatchable presentations — some zoom focuses are a bit grainy as per iPhone limitations — while Yamaguchi captures the humble modestness of existential fantasies. It's a technical firecracker that keeps popping with nifty ideas that calculate just how long such a narrative could captivate, like a compelling Rube Goldberg machine set in motion that demands precision timekeepers.
Enter a chemistry-dripping crew of Europe Kikaku performers who are collectively cutesy and animated in their personal quests. One of Kato's buddies uses the infinite knowledge of unforeseen seconds to score a rare vending machine toy; another plays pranks with ketchup bottles. There's a sweetness to harmless stakes that extrapolate within the film's intimate confines, and that's not to insinuate "harmless" as "worthless." Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is padded around edges, allowing conflicts to persist but never dropping this sensation of warmth as Kato placates his inquisitive, ceaseless companions while countering with wisdom about leaving the future in fate's hands. None of that works without an ensemble that pushes theatrical oversells as a means of laughable, quirky-but-authentic personalities.
As interactions escalate — the brainiest of the bunch faces monitor and television at one another to create a chain of two-minute intervals — Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes doesn't really "excite" in the word's classic definition. Yamaguchi honors more of a fandom's ode to larger sci-fi narratives on a shoestring budget. Where a title like Primer still emits denser narrative transmission waves, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes never becomes more than castmates chatting with temporal doppelgängers and reliving the same moments on repeat. One Cut of the Dead keeps surfacing as a creative comparison point, but that's on spirit alone — dare I suggest Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes barely justifies its already shaved length due to its reliance on ideological prowess and actor smiles?
Then again, it's alright to accept nice things into our lives. One person's "toothless" is another's "wholesome" and "inviting." Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes oozes the last two descriptors and is a testament to how imaginations can thrive whether backed by millions of dollars or tip jar savings. Yamaguchi and company should be — and most definitely are — proud of their little-mindbender-that-could, down to its silliest sight gags when thugs point loaded handguns. It's as much an inspiration to upcoming independent filmmakers who don't know where to start as it is an enjoyable — if diet — serving of time warp humorousness that succeeds as clever entertainment and a teachable lesson alike: make your damn movie.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is currently seeking U.S. distribution.
Matt Donato is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic who stays up too late typing words for What To Watch, IGN, Paste, Bloody Disgusting, Fangoria and countless other publications. He is a member of Critics Choice and co-hosts a weekly livestream with Perri Nemiroff called the Merri Hour. You probably shouldn't feed him after midnight, just to be safe.