When I was a kid, I had so many flights of fancy where time travel was concerned. Could I fly fast enough on a plane through different time zones to somehow beat the clock and arrive in the past? Could I somehow see into the future if I was communicating to people over video chat with a ten-second delay? Obviously, these have zero basis in anything approaching reality, but watching Junta Yamaguchi’s feature debut Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, I was reminded of all the weird dreams of time travel I had: “If I just maybe put this camera here, and there camera there…” etc…
Yamaguchi’s film was borne out of an acting workshop and shot completely on an iPhone. Neither is terribly novel, given we’ve got filmmakers like Stephen Soderbergh doing the latter quite often now, but that it’s formulated as a “one-take” effort, well that’s a bit more of a hook to help ratchet up the conceptual framework that the film is centered on.
On paper, Beyond the Infinite Two Minute’s plot is a bit threadbare, an aimless cafe owner who lives above his own shop discovers a video on his computer attempting to communicate with him, and he finds out that it’s actually him from two minutes in the future, setting he and his friends on a time loop. The camera follows as they take turns going up to his apartment to speak with their future selves, and they then go back downstairs to fulfill those very actions. And it gets increasingly heady from there, and sadly, these youngsters just can’t stay out of trouble either.
As a viewing experience, Yamaguchi’s debut is never dull, though it does grate a tad, especially in the early going as the execution of the timeloop has to run its course a number of times. It’s difficult to not get a little annoyed when you’ve watched the same scene occur twice in a row ad nauseum. Luckily, Yamaguchi and team know when things have started to wear out its welcome just in the nick of time and the camera will shift its focus elsewhere while his lead’s pals are still playing around with multiple television screens. And the one take gimmick, while clearly edited to be so, is still pretty impressive given the budgetary and technological limitations on-hand.
Is Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes a film I would recommend? I think so. It’s a very cute first movie, with a lot of cleverness on hand. Tonally, it reminds me a lot of One Cut of the Dead, beyond just the superficial connection, but there’s a level of amped-up and earnest acting from relatively inexperienced performers that adds to the overall charm. It’s a little clumsy in places, and if it were much longer, I think it would be a much tougher sit. But at 70 minutes? It becomes a charming debut feature with a lot of imagination, and it’s frankly a better start than a lot of big name filmmakers have offered at the beginning of their careers. I’m interested in what Yamaguchi does next.