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  Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes Future Fantastic
Year: 2020
Director: Junta Yamaguchi
Stars: Kazunari Tosa, Riko Fujitani, Gota Ishida, Masashi Suwa, Yoshifumi Sakai, Haruki Nakagawa, Munenori Nagano, Takashi Sumita, Chikara Honda, Aki Asakura
Genre: Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a cafe owner who is also in a band with his friend; he plays guitar, and would really far rather be making a living with music than the cafe, though he doesn't like to think much about what the future will bring. This is unfortunate, for as he says goodnight to his waitress Aya (Riko Fujitani) and her little joke with him fails to raise a smile, he retires upstairs to his room to practice on his guitar. But he cannot find his plectrum, so it's lucky that someone knows where it is, someone on his television monitor, someone who is trying to communicate with Kato... someone who is Kato! From two minutes into the future!

The DNA of cult hit One Cut of the Dead was all over Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, they were both Japanese, they both featured long takes to make their action, and they both breathed new life into two hackneyed genres, in the previous film's case it was zombies, in this case it was time travel. By the point this was released the tricks of the time travel plot would appear to have been as played out as the undead flesheaters, unless someone wanted to combine the two ideas into one crossover item, but director Junta Yamaguchi was not about to do that. It was the possibilities of extremely limited time travel that captivated him here.

And likely would captivate you as well, even if you thought you had had it up to here with time paradoxes and characters leaving objects or notes for their past selves to find. Those things happened in this, but not quite in the way you would expect, and though there was no explanation forthcoming about why the television in Kato's room was showing what happened on the monitor downstairs two minutes before, you really did not need it all to be laid out and made plain to appreciate the movie. Indeed, the fact they did not explain any of it was part of the fun, it was simply that kind of universe the characters had found themselves inhabiting.

In a way, this was a romantic tale about never giving up on finding Miss or Mr Right in your future: Kato would like to invite next door neighbour Megumi (Aki Asakura) to his gig, but lacks the confidence, and the bizarre turn of events prompts him to find his feet as far as relationships go. He gets to be Sir Galahad and save the girl too, but that happens later, as the first half is caught up with Kato's pals, including the kooky Aya, fooling around with the technology and using it to their advantage, though as they discern, a way to see two minutes hence is a very limited superpower. So limited that it is part of the joke, for this was a comedy, not because the cast were exchanging quips, but because you found yourself laughing at its abundant ingenuity.

Made on a tiny budget and filmed on a phone, it also had the illusion of being shot in one take thanks to some frankly superb editing techniques. And even with the invisible cutting, it remained a tremendous feat of memory as the actors had to not only interact with themselves on the monitors, but do so in exactly a couple of minutes' time both back and forwards. If you loved a movie with a gimmick, you were going to lap this ridiculousness up, you could understand why it might prove irritating but the relentless good nature of the tone and the essential innocence of the protagonists was very winning. Really it was all to get Kato his mojo back, and that involved not being in the employ of the strictures of fate which can hamper even the most optimistic of personalities. Just because someone tells you the future is bleak doesn't mean it has to be so, even if they are time cops, and this sunny disposition twinned with brilliance on slender resources made for a genuinely lovely, silly and romantic conclusion. Music by Koji Takimoto.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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