This outlandish Japanese film is mindbogglingly brilliant, shot in a single take on a smartphone (broken only for the title card).
Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is shutting up his café for the night and heads up to his apartment, leaving waitress Aya (Riko Fujitani) to finish the last bits of cleaning. Kato also plays the guitar and needs to practice for a gig he has booked in a bar but can’t find his plectrum. Suddenly, his computer monitor springs to life, and it’s Kato looking back at himself. He tells him not only where his plectrum is, but that the monitor and the TV in the café are connected, but with a two-minute delay. So he heads downstairs once more to have the exact same conversation, only from a different perspective. This baffling situation grows and gets increasingly convoluted when his friends turn up and plan bigger ways to test the phenomenon.
The debut feature from Junta Yamaguchi is fun and a meticulously executed spectacle. The concept alone is intriguing, but filming as one single shot takes some doing. As things progress and the wandering camera follows the characters through the situation, it feels increasingly like a finely-tuned stage farce. Brian Rix would have loved to do this, only with some trouser-dropping.
Naturally, as things progress and the characters turn both monitors on each other, creating what has become known as a ‘Droste effect’ with countless iterations of the future (and extending the two minutes), things get ever more complicated. Characters and props drift in and out of the narrative as in life, and each element becomes important to the outcome when things get out of hand.
Yamaguchi is clearly someone to watch as he expertly directs the actors with precision. Kudos must go to writer Makoto Ueda for coming up with such an astounding scenario. Sometimes cinema just has to be enjoyable, and that’s what Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is.