Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it inches by at a snail’s pace. Sometimes years seem to pass in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it feels like it has stopped and everything around you is moving in slow motion.
In the case of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes from Director Junta Yamaguchi and writer Makoto Ueda, time is just as much of a character as anyone or anything else. Shot in one take, this comedy-meets-sci-fi-meets-time travel-meets-“where did the mafia come in” film goes beyond the limits of time as we know it and instead brings it to life as an active participant.
Upon returning to his room above his café, Kato (Kazunari Tosa), hears a familiar voice calling for his attention. He turns to his computer monitor to see himself – the self from two minutes in the future. Alarmed and intrigued, Kato runs downstairs back into the café to see the view from the TV monitor, and sees his past self doing the very thing he was doing two minutes earlier. He repeats the same words and gets the same responses, each version of Kato mimicking the previous one as if in a loop. But it’s a loop that gets larger and wider as his friends push the limits of looking into the future and even manipulating it in a way that can only lead to one thing: trouble.
While time travel movies aren’t typically my go-to genre, I have to admit I’ve never seen a film like this. For one, time isn’t just something passing in the background. Like I mentioned previously, it feels like an actual character that is impacted by the decisions of Kato and his friends, but it’s also the one prompting those decisions. After seeing and hearing what their future selves say, the group makes sure they say the same things when it’s their “turn” to be in the future.
There is also a goofiness to it that keeps it from being too serious. The plot of the “Droste TV,” has the science and intelligence needed for it to theoretically make sense (as much as time travel can make sense), but it doesn’t slack on the fun. I mean let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to know how to find a little extra cash if they could? And if it led to local mafia bosses taking your neighbor hostage so you go rescue them, I mean that’s just a risk we may have to take.
Which actually leads me to a more serious reflection. IF we could know, SHOULD we ask? Kato is often the one prompting his friends to leave the monitors and stop digging further into the future, warning them that it isn’t a great idea. And is he right? Sure we all like to joke about how great it would be to know the future lottery numbers or the next Super Bowl champions, but to Kato’s point, how far down the rabbit hole do we go? So often I wish I could see into the future so that I could know if I was doing the right thing in the present – thinking that if I knew the outcome, THEN I could make the decision or choice. Or, as Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes asks, could I instead change the outcome so that I could spend more time in the present?
Even if we saw our future literally in front of us on a TV screen, we aren’t bound to it. There is always an opportunity to shift directions toward something else. But what will stick with me from this film is that it isn’t really about the future at all. It’s about the present. And, if I look at time as a partner as opposed to a construct or crystal ball, maybe I don’t have to worry so much about what lies ahead. Instead time and I can take it moment by moment, doing the best we can for now, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is now playing in select theatres.