Fantasia 2021: Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

Time travel has always been a popular topic for sci-fi. From Verne’s time machine to Doc Brown’s DeLorean, there’s something about dealing with the past and glimpsing an uncertain future that keeps audiences enthralled. Not every title finds its way among an already crowded marketplace, that’s why “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” lands as such a pleasant surprise. The film centers around a man, Kato, who feels his life is hitting a wall. Everything changes when he is faced with a TV screen featuring a familiar face — his own. He’s then tasked with understanding time itself as he and a group of those close to him navigate an array of challenging circumstances. 

Infinite’ chooses a very relatable method for its time manipulation, focusing on TV screens over surreal devices or machines, The screens are something everyone can find in their own lives and connect to just as Kato does. While they may be dealing with the movement of time, leaving the details to electronics easily found in the real world establishes a connection that goes beyond fantasy constructs. It also makes it easy to navigate a closed setting in which the entire story takes place.

A concentrated story structure makes this an easy to follow narrative. Instead of introducing complicated details that could confuse casual viewers, screenwriter Makoto Ueda relishes in keeping it simple. The script looks at character development among a rapidly changing set of circumstances. Details are relegated to a need to know basis in lieu of piling on unnecessary bits along the way. 

It also helps that the cast mostly consists of Europe Kikaku members; the Japanese theater company brings a knowledge of live events and fast-paced changes that give the film its snapping pace. Their ability to move with the added narrative layers while also keeping up with even the slightest of alternatives is crucial to ensuring this works. The cast members make ‘Infinite’ look effortless thereby creating a cinematic experience which asks you to watch without delving into the little details. 

DIRECTOR: Junta Yamaguchi

WRITER: Makoto Ueda

CAST: Aki Asakura, Kazunori Tosa

PRODUCER: Takahiro Otsuki

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Junta Yamaguchi

EDITOR: Junta Yamaguchi

Fantasia 2021: The 12 Day Tale of the Monster that Died in 8

We live in a changed world, now connected via webcams and Zoom calls. A global pandemic is still raging as the space between us grows with each passing day. Filmmaker Shunji Iwai may not have been aware of where the world would be today but his film “The 12 Day Tale of the Monster that Died in 8” takes some ambitious steps towards understanding its moment. The writer/director was facing the task of creating through an uncertain period; he dabbled in the available mediums instead of giving in to the conceits of quitting and cutting down on basic artistic impulses. The results are a film that attempts experimental techniques while delving into an evolving Kaiju lore. 

The project focuses its attention on Takumi Saito, this fictitious version of the multi-hyphenate encounters a dilemma as opportunities cease due to COVID. He’s convinced to try raising monsters in capsule form. Along the way, he finds himself intent on the growth of other “pet” projects while grappling with the even deadlier prospects outside his door. More than just a metaphor for the virus, the story relies on a variety of creatures to propel its characters further through this growing wilderness of doubt. The addition of a seemingly invisible alien to the mix just picks up on the unknown as initial concerns grow. 

Shunji Iwai makes use of black and white instead of color to tell the story; it’s a skillful decision that removes some of the supposed reality that comes with Internet centered projects. There’s a classic quality that exists against the stark truths of a pandemic world. The artistic elements also help viewers through the magical qualities of these monsters without making them myths. In terms of the creations themselves, they are bare and without the familiar characteristics. As it relates to the real virus, these creations carry that harsh sterile nature that is welcomed by the copious amounts of hand sanitizer and plastic barriers now affixed to our own lives. 

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai

Cast: Shinji Higuchi, Moeka Hoshi, Non, Takumi Saito, So Takei