If there’s one thing that will guarantee my itchy play finger, it’s a science fiction movie made on a tiny budget. Not because I want to see poorly costumed aliens or bad green-screen outer space, but because nothing gets me jumping up and down like seeing what creative people can do with a few bucks and a single location.
I’ve watched Coherence, a single location sci-fi about quantum decoherence that lacks almost any special effects, more times than I can count. I watched Primer twice in a row, first to experience it, then immediately again after mapping out the timeline. So, when I heard about Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, a “high-concept time-loop movie” born out of an acting workshop and recorded on iPhones, it was added to my watch list so fast, it felt like it happened two minutes in the past.
Kato (Kazunori Tosa) is a bit of a loser, or so he thinks. He chased music but now lives atop a café and thinks of himself as aimless. One day, after leaving the café to head to his apartment up top, he gets a message from his future self through the surveillance video. Glancing at the TV in his room which connects to the café on a two-minute delay, he converses with his future self who tells him everything will make sense later.
Kato steps down the stairs and ends up delivering the same message to his past self, and suddenly find himself in an infinite time loop with confusing outcomes. He drags his friends into the mix, and each of them add their thoughts and assumptions, and they all take shots and trying to exploit this time-TV. Two minutes of insight is never enough, and the friends each try their hand at using this future knowledge for immediate gain, all to some unforeseen consequences.
If you’re like me, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes will make you want to sit down with coloured pens and try to solve its mysteries. I’ll spare you the effort; it checks out. What the creators have done is truly remarkable. Not just by keeping track of the time loop, but by setting the stage in important ways early on and continuing to raise the stakes through the runtime.
“If you’re like me, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes will make you want to sit down with coloured pens and try to solve its mysteries.”
For instance, the second time Kato takes the stairs, you half expect him to run into his time duplicate, knowing they are both approaching the stairs after swapping TV messages. By forcing the audience to watch Kato take the stairs alone, the rules are laid out quickly. As the runtime (not time-time) presses on, the stakes are raised beyond just a two-minute advance and into some infinite loops and overlaps that ensure the bit never dries up.
“Clever” hardly scratches the surface of what this film accomplishes. Over the final credits, there are behind-the-scenes clips that I watched with my eyes peeled and completely impressed. Maps, timelines, and plans, a few creators in masks carrying iPhones and boom-mics…this is what filmmaking is all about. This was produced during the pandemic by a Japanese theatre troupe and manages to derive something completely unique out of the reality of video conferencing.
If the enchantment of One Cut of the Dead left you warm and fuzzy about the magic of filmmaking, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes will reignite your fire. This isn’t about stripping down the sci-fi epic, it’s about creating something that can exist in a small space using something as simple as a message from your future self. It’s much less Tenet than it is a full extension of the meticulously planned part in Bo Burnham’s video-within-a-video bit fromInside.
What starts as a silly gag with a brilliant math-and-science twist ends up being about faith and time as philosophical concepts. Even more impressive than the planning and execution of a complex time bit is the ability for the creators to weave in a deeper story about what time and the future means to the lead. That’s what keeps Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes a magical feat through the very end.
Good new for perspective viewers, Indiecan Entertainment has snapped up North American distribution for the flick, so you might get a chance to see it sooner, rather than later (imagine I had a really slick joke about time in here).