Fantasia 2021: BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES is Charming and Mind-bogglingly Inventive

Both amusing and amazing, the nested-structure sci-fi comedy is this year’s “ONE CUT OF THE DEAD”

Are you tired of being told to “turn off your brain” in order to enjoy a movie? Then turn it back on and strap in for one of the highlights of this year’s Fantasia Fest. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is an absolute blast that’s both highly cerebral and immensely entertaining.

Kato owns a cafe and lives in an apartment above. After “commuting” home one evening he discovers a shocking phenomenon: by some trick of the universe, a videoconference link between the locations has somehow become staggered by two minutes. Not delayed, but pushed forward.

That is to say, he has a window into the very near future, where he watches himself briefly explain the situation to… himself.

As Kato reacts to the anomaly, an expanding group of friends wanders in and gets in on the “Time TV” action, and realizes that placing the two monitors facing each other gives them a looped picture-in-picture effect, providing real-time glimpses of iterations of both past and future. (The suspension of disbelief on this premise is perhaps the film’s single readily apparent flaw; in order to pull this off the apartment computer is on an absurdly long power cable to allow it to be carried downstairs. Simply using a laptop instead would’ve neatly avoided this plot hole).

It’s this clever framework which informs the rest of the tale, a riotous and imaginative look at how being informed of the future can influence, or entrap, one’s decisions. The glimpses of the future provide lots of opportunities for both humor and suspense as new and escalating surprises are revealed.

This is a marvel of filmmaking and you’ll absolutely hear this movie framed in direct comparison with another Japanese comedy, the incredible One Cut of the Dead from a few years ago. Both films are amazing to behold as they reveal a central conceit that’s mind-blowingly inventive and logistically insane, all the more impressive for employing a “one take” structure. Trying to mentally work out how they actually went about filming this is will just give you a headache.

This aggressive narrative gymnastics and calling attention to the filmmaking itself might seem to threaten to take you out of the film, but like One Cut of the Dead, it just enhanced it for me. The film is not merely a technical showcase, but a deeply charming and character-driven story with a satisfying escalation and conclusion.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a film that immediately deserves entrance into the “superlatives” conversations: Best one-take style films. Best single location films. Best films from first time directors.

The film is the work of a troupe called “Europe Kikaku”, and I’m immensely excited to see more from this team.

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