Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes


Time Before Time

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes
aka Droste no hate de bokura
Japan 2020 Directed by Junta Yamaguchi
Third Window Films Blu Ray Zone B

The reason I picked Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes up was because people were kind of connecting it with the brilliant movie One Cut Of The Dead (reviewed by me here) to the point where I was under the impression that this film was written and directed by the same person. It’s actually not and, as far as I can tell, other than an endorsement it has nothing to do with him.

However, while this ‘filmed in one take’ movie is nothing to do with that, it’s still quite an accomplished but... and this is saying something... even more of a small scale production than One Cut Of The Dead. And I’m going to stop mentioning that other film now other than to say... the two films are worlds apart and it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It was just a marketing ploy.

What we have with Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes is a movie which is more of a light hearted look at a thought exercise. The basic plot set up is that a small cafe owner goes to his flat above the shop to find himself talking to him on his monitor from the other monitor downstairs, from two minutes in the future. So he then goes downstairs to see if its true and has the same conversation with himself from two minutes in the past upstairs. And then more people get involved with the two monitors... one which projects from two minutes in the future and one which receives from two minutes in the past, to the point where some bright spark has the bright idea of bringing the upstairs monitor down to look at the other (on its impossibly long electrical cable), setting up a Droste effect or infinity loop where the two monitors reflecting each other set up an infinite set of levels of time which the central protagonists can then visit at different points because, time passes and then they are suddenly at a later point in the chain etc. At some point a couple of violent criminals and two agents from a ‘time police’ bureau turn up but the film has a fairly short running time so not a whole lot has too much time to develop past the kind of novelty factor which, I have to say, is nice but wears thin fairly quickly.

It’s actually not that confusing although, a couple of times it does threaten to be but, the practical demonstrations of proposed theories illustrate things fairly well so you’re never too lost in the temporal dynamics of the situation. A simple love story almost has time to blossom and this keeps the interest up when things continue to be repetitive and escalate at different levels and angles.

It’s not a bad little movie to demonstrate and explore the idea and, certainly, on a technical level it’s absolute genius. I’m pretty sure the very first message from the main protagonist is a video recording but, after that I suspect the footage from each monitor (presumably being picked up from a hidden cam on each) is being looped back at two minute intervals and the cast have to be rehearsed enough to hit the correct places and perform their scenes at the right times. It must have been a nightmare of concentration and, I suspect, false starts and spoiled takes to get right. The film is only 70 minutes long but, even so, you could get a long way into a take before it gets screwed up and everybody has to start again, I would think (unless the film has only a semblance of being a single shot and was using traveling matte cuts etc to create the illusion of one cut but, I haven’t heard anything about that being the case here).

The actors are all good and the majority of the characters are all sympathetic. Also, there’s a budget friendly commitment to keeping everything fairly low tech, so the two ‘time police’ have these futuristic guns which really do look like somebody raided the local toy shop for them. The low key nature also extends to Koji Takimoto’s score which only comes in very occasionally as a very light hearted attempt to highlight certain points but, for a lot of the time, the score is absent.

That being said, I completely understand why some people have been bored by it. I kinda liked Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes but, throughout the whole movie, I kept waiting for something ‘more’ to happen and, when the ending of the film did come, it just felt very low key and abrupt for something which has such a high concept at its centre. I’m glad I saw this one but am now a bit annoyed I didn’t wait a few months for it to come down in price in the sales as, yeah, it’s not the hilarious mind blower I had been led to believe. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of the concept but don’t go in expecting a look and feel as lofty as its own central premise, for sure.

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