Symbol (2009) Poster

(2009)

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Mindf***
eferoth25 August 2010
I'm baffled. You meet this kind of movie only very rarely.

It defies attempts to categorize it. It destroys your preconceptions of what a "special" movie might be. There's slapstick and there's nonsense and there's meta babbling, except its wordless meta babbling. Also there's angel penises, like a lot of them. Seriously, this movie weirded me out.

In itself the story moves in a pretty straight line. Well, two straight lines. There's the wrestler plot, and there's the white room plot. The wrestler plot is utterly forgettable and, frankly, quite boring. It just functions as the opposite of the white room. One of many incarnations of what opposite could mean in this case.

The white room plot centers on a man trying to get out of the white room. Simple right? Pressing the angels penises (You heard me!) reveals certain, seemingly random, objects. In combination they might lead to an escape. Here the movie really shines. Through sometimes silly, sometimes clever trial and error means the protagonist starts coming up with an escape plan. I found myself thinking along with him (and normally being way ahead of him and getting frustrated with him... JUST USE THE POT!!!).

In the end the two story lines meet to give the audience a bigger picture. The ending still came as a surprise, although, in hindsight, it makes complete sense. It leaves only one question, but I came up with an answer immediately. I think thats how its supposed to be. Not everyones answer will be the same, but there will be one. Perfect example of closure without closure.

Watch this if you like to see special things, don't finish watching it if you're bored after the first white room scene. It probably won't be the movie for you.

9/10

I subtracted one star because the effects in the final scene were so crappy that they really distracted me from fully enjoying the ending but that's probably just me and other people working in that field themselves. Nothing to cry over really.
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9/10
It helps if you know Japanese slapstick - but just a bit
Radu_A6 January 2011
There's no mention on who the director/ lead actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is in the other reviews, which may help prospective viewers to decide if they want to see this unique film or not. Matsumoto is one half of the arguably most famous Japanese comedy duo 'Downtown'. Their style is called 'manzai', that is one guy says a lot of stupid stuff and the other butts in all the time to correct him; you may have seen this in the background of some films by Kitano, who started his career in 'manzai' as well.

If you know that type of comedy, the otherwise completely non-sequitur style of 'Symbol' won't necessarily come as such a surprise, because the whole idea of 'manzai' is to baffle the audience by pushing nonsense as far as it can go. Since Matsumoto's part is the 'boke' AKA nitwit, it's pretty much in his line to come up with the most far-fetched, senseless and weirdest story angles imaginable - after all he's been doing this on TV since 1983! The ridiculous wig he's wearing in the film is actually part of his TV antics - I remember him wobbling around with it whenever he got an idea, pretty much like what he's doing here.

What surprised me though is that 'Symbol' has excellent production values, unlike his debut 'Big Man Japan' which suffered from very bad CGI (which may have been on purpose though). Here the visuals look so well done that I can't help but wonder about the budget. Another surprise unmentioned in the other reviews: there's an appearance by 'Kiss'! Other than that, I can only confirm what everyone else said: you may love it, you may hate it, that depends on how much you can forget about any expectations you have.
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10/10
A wonderful tale of the harsh reality of life along a man's quest to reach absolution and his trail through life.
george-79-81294413 June 2011
Symbol is a wonderful tale of the harsh reality of life along a man's quest to reach absolution and his trail through life.

The director uses explicit visual aids to guide us through the materialistic needs of an everyday Japanese man and the things he must do to acquire them by forfeiting his freedom. Following the path of

maturity, he, whose name we will never learn reaches a point were mere material pleasure is not enough and needs to learn what it is like to be free. During this hard and long journey he will find himself doubting and forsaking everything. Only then will he be able to

slide open the door to real freedom and find himself as a new god. But still unable to shed his true human skin, he will influence the lives of people whose existence he is not even aware of.

Symbol is able to reach down and touch you in places that only religion was able to before. It is breathtaking up to the very last second.
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10/10
Great and challenging movie because it cannot be summarized in the usual cinematic linear form.
pinkflash-602-40083120 December 2010
Challenges many of the most basic philosophical assumptions about god, heaven, and hell. If you ever wondered about your own impact on others and your ability to do good works.. Or wondered if god could evolve eventually, there is so much to chew on. Imagery as diverse as clowns, Mexican wrestling, and the symbols of Japanese culture flutter as butterfly wings with the strobe and flicker of film infecting NOT only as genius can from the other side of the planet. The layering of thought and ideas is very satisfying compared to typical American films. I am not surprised that all but one of the reviews even gave an accurate summary. This can be a complex film, but not necessarily. A creative child couldn't help being charmed by the poetic surface of action and color. A stunning treat.
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8/10
It doesn't get much weirder than this...
KnatLouie6 May 2010
I was fortunate enough to catch this movie at a screening during the Copenhagen film-festival last month, and when I went to see it, I didn't really know what to expect, so imagine my surprise and joy, when I found out that the plot went something like this...

First, we begin with a scene in Mexico, where we see a small family eating breakfast.. nothing extraordinary in that, except that the father is wearing a full-face wrestling-mask, like the famous Mexican wrestler Santos (or for the mainstream-audience, like The Gimp from "Pulp Fiction"), and is suddenly picked up by a foul-mouthed woman dressed as a nun, who drives him to town, where the night's big fight is going to take place.

Then, cut to a Japanese man, waking up in a completely empty white room, not knowing how or why he got there, he screams to get some help and attention. But all he sees is something that looks like a button in the wall.. when he presses it, hundreds of naked angel-boys appear before him, only to disappear back into the wall..except their penises! He then proceeds to press the penises, and finds out that something mysterious happens every time he does so! Holes open in the walls, and random things are thrown into the room, be it furniture, gadgets, food, or even living things! All that happens inside the room is apparently a personal voyage for the man, but it also effects other people's lives at the same time, most notably the Mexican wrestler and his family, which we discover near the end of the film. But it really is something that should be watched to be completely understood - and even then, it's not even certain that you'll be able to understand what happened - or why.

Highly recommended film. Very unique and entertaining throughout, even though the last fifteen minutes get really bizarre and too artsy for my taste. This movie is not to be missed. You will probably never see anything quite as weird and funny like this. 8/10
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9/10
I loved it... but could have ended up hating it just as well
k_tress20 April 2010
I saw this movie at the Brussels Fantastic Film Festival, and I loved it!

In retrospect, I could have ended up hating it just as well!

Shinboru is a very odd situational comedy. It's silly yet artsy, thoughtful in parts, anarchic in its delivery and overall nuts. To this day, I have no idea what it was about, its meaning, what it's meant to *symbolize*.

I enjoyed it immensely, though, and found it especially hilarious with the geeky festival crowd commenting irreverently at the screen. It might not be as fun if you're watching it alone in your living room.
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8/10
A newer take on Kubrick's 2001
sammystyles11229 June 2010
How can I explain such a simple yet complex film such as Symbol? It's not easy, but I'll give it a try.

Symbol see-saws between two stories and is shown in three chapters which are labeled Education, Implementation and Future. There's the story of an out-of-shape Mexican wrestler known as "Escargot Man" as he prepares for a title fight in some tiny dusty little village. And simultaneously, there's the story being told of a Japanese man who awakes to find himself in a large, all white rectangular room with no doors or windows.

Just how are these two stories connected? The answer is an existential journey into the energizing and inventive script of Matsumoto. For those who have seen his first feature Big Man Japan, in where a solitary middle-aged man periodically transforms into a giant to defend Japan from an array of monsters, you might have a little clue as to what you're getting into with Symbol. Let me assure you right now that Symbol is definitely its own monster, and perhaps one that will make both fans and newcomers to Matsumoto's work say WTF.

Perhaps the best film I could compare Symbol to would be Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, it's a bold comparison, but an apt one as well. Just substitute Kubrick's towering monolith and epic wormhole sequence for Hitoshi Matsumoto's room full of baby penises and a penis wall climbing ascent into the future and you're basically looking at the same film.
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6/10
Panic Room
kosmasp28 December 2010
A Japanese movie that stars off in Mexico. No you heard/read me right. And yes this is the movie you wanted to see or were pushed to see by your friend. The latter is true for me. And this movie defies quite a few rules and is anything but simple to categorize. While its crazy ideas may either delight you or annoy you, this is a crude mix of fantasy and sci-fi that is difficult to put a finger on (no pun intended).

The comedy that ensues is mostly non verbal and while the main character seems stupid at times, he is also able to figure things out quite quickly other times. And therefor the flow of the movie seems a bit interrupted at places. If you are annoyed by that, maybe you should stop watching. Though you would miss out on an ending that is even more difficult to describe then the movie itself. It is definitely a trip and something you have to do voluntarily, otherwise you might be angry at yourself/your friend recommending this.

I cannot say watch this, but I cannot tell you not to either. I know that quite a few people were delighted by the (physical) humour, never even thinking about the layers that this movie builds. And that is a way to enjoy the movie, if you can. I had problems with the simple little things that were "off" (in the wrong sense) as written above. The big idea behind ... I liked that one. I just think there could have been an even better way to do that ...
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1/10
been there done that
Annie_Mah1 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When is a sub genre born? Does it simply derive from a formula or certain elements that are reused often enough? Or can it be a set of expectations you bring into the theater with you? I ask because Symbol seems to be deliberately riffing on all of these things, trying to find the line where familiar tropes become, well, symbols. It plays both with a familiar sub genre and a less-familiar setup that's on the verge of becoming a sub genre at this point; you could even argue that this is the movie that pushes it over.

For most of its running time, Symbol seems to be two completely unrelated movies running parallel to each other. One is a Mexican Lucha Libre movie (or maybe "short film" is more appropriate, given the relatively small amount of running time it involves). It's perfectly conventionally shot and with a simple narrative; the wrestler Escargot Man prepares for a tag team match, while a kid in the audience cheers him on.

The other storyline is deliberately, seemingly perversely different. A nameless Japanese man (comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto, who also wrote and directed) wakes up in a featureless white room about the size of a bachelor apartment, wearing a set of candy-colored pajamas and a ridiculous bowl cut. He has no idea how he got there. Exploring the room, he finds exactly one notable feature: a button on the wall shaped like, uh, male genitalia. Pressing it triggers an explosion of cherubs from the wall, who leave behind...more penis-shaped buttons. Pressing those buttons, in turn, triggers a bizarre and seemingly useless array of objects that come shooting out of the walls, along with other, generally disagreeable effects (like one which turns into a butt and farts toxic fumes at him). Eventually, though, some of the buttons start to reveal their potential usefulness in mounting an escape...except that whoever trapped him in this room seems determined to screw with his head.

Believe it or not, all this weirdness turns out to be headed somewhere relatively straightforward. I mean, it's still a weird movie that I'm sure even Matsumoto wouldn't be able to explain completely, employing as it does Lynchian dream logic and a love of the absurd for the absurd's sake. But the two threads do end up coming together in a way that...well, "makes sense" might not be the way to put it, but they do come together to make a point. The movie makes an attempt at profundity near the end which is a lot more palatable for being weird and slightly inexplicable.

Up until then, aside from the slight and seemingly straightforward Luchadore subplot, the movie is a one-man show. Matsumoto unfortunately depends a little too much on mugging and acting zanily idiotic--the character he's playing makes a number of choices that reveal him to be a dimbulb--but the situation is a natural one for humor, especially as the faceless forces that control the room seem to enjoy tormenting him. There's also a hilarious recurring sequence in which comic book panels narrate Pajamas Guy's various plans for escape while Matsumoto grooves out in the foreground. (And the narration is in English for some reason!) I'm not sure if "Shinboru" has some other shading of meaning that doesn't translate well into English--I'm assuming that the Symbol of the title refers to the little penis-buttons (yeah, I knew writing this review was going to be awkward), but it also seems to relate to the various motifs and elements we expect in a genre story, and the storyteller's attempt to break free of them. In that sense, this is an extremely meta movie. One thing's for sure, if the movie's about helping to define genres, than its clearly staking out a patch of ground under "bizarre Japanese mindfu**".
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9/10
Hilarious Weirdness in the Company of Masters
FilmCuckoo30 September 2016
I picked originally this movie for watching, because of it's mystery, single room element, which has been covered so well over and over again, without much ingenuity or desire to create something new. Imagine my surprise, when I found this movie to be a guaranteed 100% cult classic masterpiece for the future. It is difficult to describe and analyse all the ingenious subtleties of this yet another wonderful piece of modern cinematic treasure, into which Japan's movie industry has been evolving for a number of years. Some of the most creative pieces of modern cinema have certainly come from Japan during the past 10 years or so.

This movie is also weird, very weird in fact, no question about it. But it is so fabulously done, the jokes are funny, they are very funny. All that which shows us, this movie is not only brilliantly thought out, it is even more astonishingly executed, it is even more difficult to find any actual goofs from this one, (as it is from most Japanese movies) - Every single prop seems to be always in it's right place! There are way more thoughts and semantics in this movie, than just a few obscure references to the direction humanity is evolving into. The outline of a man trapped inside a room, which he is clearly destined to escape from, is only faintly veiled depiction of humanity itself, which is only given purpose by creating comedy, when seemingly random objects start popping out of the walls, if we bother to manipulate, or pull the "right" levers, as in life in itself in the real outside world. The comic slapstick routines which Hitoshi Matsumoto so superbly and funnily pulls off, are truly funny, obviously the work of a master comedian, who knows extremely well the physical side of comedy, as well as the importance of sounds, facial expressions, movements and timing. And while you're watching the movie unfold, you will most certainly notice that you will start yourself imagining the infinitely various ways how he could (or should) escape from the room, using the objects found in the room. And at the same time, you can only smile and laugh for how much fun and comedy one can pull from a bottle of soy sauce, toilet plunger, sushi and a hanging rope.

The other worthy observation is the parallel story line, which from the outline has absolutely nothing to do with our antagonist in his bright white room, this fact is even underlined by showing us that it happens as far away from Japan as possible, in Mexico, in the world of Luchador wrestler's family and work place, the wrestling ring. Naturally this so far removed place, with its people who are so far removed from our antagonist, must somehow be tied together, at point which the movie evolves into completely different spheres, becoming more surreal and fantasy driven. The viewer however, is not left out in the cold, as if you were watching closely from the beginning, you will understand everything when the movie ends.

What a brilliant, weird, intelligent, clever and hilarious movie!
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8/10
Great weird film!
emm77 October 2010
"One of the weirdest movies you'll ever see" and "El Topo meets 2001 Space Odyssey meets Nacho Libre meets a routine by Steven Wright or Eddie Izzard" are just some quotes used to describe Hitoshi Matsumotos second film Symbol (Shinboru) the word I've been using to describe it to people is just "weird".

Symbol begins in Mexico where a family is eating breakfast. The father is wearing a wrestling mask and is soon picked up by a swearing Nun who has a severe case of road rage to take him to where he'll be fighting that night. The film then cuts to a Japanese man wearing spotty pyjamas who wakes up in a large, completely white room. He doesn't know where he is or how he got there and he begins to search the room for any clues. He pushes what he thinks is a button and hundreds of laughing naked cherubs appear out of the walls, they soon disappear back into the walls leaving nothing other than remnants of their tiny willies on the paintwork, the man starts to scream and the craziness begins!

The man presses a willy and a toothbrush is thrown into the room from a wall, he continues to push many of them around the room and all sorts of objects appear, jars, sushi, magazines, a person who runs from one side of the room to another, a whole array of random objects. He soon realises that one of the willies reveals a door in the room but it always disappears by the time he gets to it, what then unfolds is him trying to find a way to escape from the room using different objects for different purposes, it seems almost like a video game.

In Mexico everyone is doubting that the father wrestler who's stage name is Escargot Man will win the fight, but it's soon revealed that he's secretly got someone to help him in the fight. The film is set half in the white room and half in Mexico, during the film it appears the two stories have no relevance to one another but by the end they do.

It's a very funny script and excellent acting by all characters but especially by director Hitoshi Matsumotos who plays the main unnamed Japanese character in the film. You have to have patience to watch this film, it takes quite a while to get into but once I got past the "What is going on?" stage but I really enjoyed it. It's quite silly in its jokes so don't go into the cinema thinking you're watching a serious arty film because it's anything but.
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9/10
Such a Weird Yet Fun Ride
bkrauser-81-31106426 January 2016
What the hell did I just watch? That is the immediate reaction I am sure most will feel when first watching Symbol. It was certainly the first thought that came to my mind. Believe it or not it's not a reaction I have often. Most movies, even badly made movies have a certain respect for story structure or lacking that a regard for the audience's ability to make sense of what's going on; not so with Symbol. A third of the way through, I was elated with the fact that for the first time in a while, I was watching something completely new. It is my personal belief that the difference between a genius and a vagrant on the bus mumbling half-formed thoughts and conspiracy theories is an audience. If you come into this Japanese import with that mindset I'm confident you will find something to like if not outright love about Symbol.

The movie begins with Matsumoto, an unnamed Japanese man who wakes up in a large, empty, windowless room. As he gets up an examines the white room, the only abnormality he finds is a small phallic protrusion sticking out of one of the walls. He taps it with his finger; spooky, ominous music swells. Suddenly a mess of cherubs appear slowly from out of the walls and giggle as he stands petrified. They morph back into the walls leaving only their own protuberances signaling they are all a type of switch. The man screams; smells his finger and continues to scream. There are vignettes of other stories chopped into the film; one in particular we return to constantly, involving an aging Luchador anxiously awaiting his last battle. Largely though, we're left with Matsumoto flipping switches in a frantic bid to get out of the room.

Hitoshi Matsumoto is apparently something of a big time celebrite in his homeland often playing opposite longtime partner Masatoshi Hamada. Since the eighties Matsumoto (known as the boke or funny man) and Hamada (the tsukkomi or sadist) have dominated sketch comedy TV in Japan through their "Downtown" Owarai act and various variety hour- like comedy shows. Despite a partnership that is rivaled only by maybe the South Park (1997-Present) guys, the two Japanese darlings find being around each other after the show "awkward". This would certainly explain why Hamada is in no way involved with Symbol; yet his influence is felt in every slapstick situation. There is some borrowing from the Manzai comedy tradition here but there are more visual themes associated with Bunuel and Jodorowsky not to mention a heavy dose of Kafka. It's not surprising that despite no film release in the west, the movie has been more warmly received stateside than in its native Japan.

There are various levels of subtext and meta-text at play here yet I'm inclined to belay all that and simply recommend this bizarre little trip as strongly as I can. This movie is as absurd as you're liable to get so for those who don't see the humor in a loudly dressed Japanese man struggling to escape from a human-sized Skinner box, don't bother. Those of you who are curious to see one of the goofiest, wackiest, most nonsensical movies ever committed to film, you need to see Symbol. It's hard to find online so if you find a version sans subtitles, snatch it anyway. This movie is one of those rare foreign movies you don't need a translation to understand, or rather not understand what's going on.
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9/10
Jodorowsky meets Kubrick Meets Nacho Libre Meets.... Just see this film all the way to the end.
dbborroughs9 July 2010
The best thing to do is find the trailer for this film on line and watch it. If it at all looks interesting see this film. If it doesn't run away.

Bizarre head trip film links two seemingly unconnected stories, that of a man trapped in a white room and the tale of a Mexican wrestler. How they relate is revealed toward the end of the film, until then its a weird mix of philosophy and dry humor.

The choice with this film is either to go all in and wait for the end of the film or not to watch it. If you start the film and bail you'll do so before the film pulls it all together into a neat bunch. Bailing will make you miss the AH HA moments at the end (not to mention so painfully funny (I hurt myself) bits toward the end. To really decide about this film you have to buy the ticket and ride to the end.

One of the better films screened at this years New York Asian Film festival this film confounded some people who couldn't wait to see where it was all going. Normally I get impatient myself but it was clear that this film was going somewhere...it just wasn't going to tell you until you got there. I threw my desire to squirm away and I just went with it and I was richly rewarded.

If you can go with a comedy that is like El Topo Meets 2001 meets Nacho Libre meets a routine by Steven Wright or Eddie Izzard then see this film. If you can't stay with it for 90 plus minutes don't even start the film.
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5/10
Some good laughs from this outlandish bizarre movie
Atavisten18 October 2010
Comparisons to El Topo and 2001 A Space Oddysey are counter-productive with regards to this movie. It has the surreality and meta-physicality of neither, nor is it as well put together as those two. This is a bizarre comedy, nothing more. As such it's quite entertaining at parts.

A guy in a dreadful yellow and green pajama finds himself in a white room totally empty except for some strange bumps in the walls. What follows here will keep you laughing long after the movie finishes.

The director Mattchan is a man with a lot of ideas, some of them good, some of them not. For instance, the parallel stories serve almost no purpose (at least successfully).
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8/10
follow up
dumsumdumfai21 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
what a followup to his first film - the mockumetary DaiNipponji. If you don't have a clue going in - the first 1hr will be treat.

I found most movies are like that for me - if I was told about a synopsis to an movie - my mind will start to imagine. Sometimes not too much on the foreground - but I'm sure some neurons are working overtime in the background. This is what I think expectations and preconceptions are for me. And similarly with the same director - if you seen one of the previous movies...etc.. you get it.

**spoilers** so the man waking up in white room part is fun and funny. The segmentation of it into 3 parts sorts of gives the intention away - I would have prefer not telling us the 3 parts. And the 2nd stage of the white room has some clips that might be too.. time specific that it almost seen edited not with as much scrutiny? and maybe a bit "telling" of it message.

Overall, I liked it. 8 - for being different and coherent; fun and well organised; out of the ordinary and thougthful. But not as out of this world as his first movie. But much much much better than any mainstream out there.
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3/10
Surrealism of a very weird kind
MOscarbradley3 August 2017
Surrealism in the movies comes in all shapes and sizes; you just have to give yourself over to it, or not as the case may be. "Symbol" opens very much in the real world, in this case Mexico, and the only incongruity is that the truck-driving nun we see smokes and swears like a trooper, and then suddenly we are in a gigantic white room where the only inhabitant is an Asian gentleman in what I assume are brightly coloured pajamas and around the walls and on the floor are a series of protruding phallic looking objects which, when touched, give off a honking sound and send various props into the room. The man, it would seem, is as confused as we are.

Attempting to apply any meaning to Hitoshi Matsumoto's movie is futile. The film moves between its 'realistic' Mexican setting where a hooded wrestler is getting ready for his big fight and the white room from which pajama man attempts to escape using the props that fall out of the walls. Is the film a comedy? Well, not really unless you have a very bizarre, surreal or just Japanese sense of humour. It's certainly not a drama or a thriller. A comic fantasy perhaps, complete with toilet humour? It's certainly weird enough at least not to be boring and at the end the two totally unrelated stories meet in a mildly amusing if highly imaginative way. You could almost say the movie is worth sitting through for these last 10 minutes; almost but not quite. Personally I could have done without it.
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10/10
Highly recommended unique film
kritharas7 October 2012
The "symbol" is not a film for the average comedy audiences you'll have to deliberately search for this one.

If you like films like the Holy Mountain or "El Topo" or unique films with allegory and unusual story than "symbol" is your film. Its a very creative and inventive concept You don't want to view this film only for its ending.

it's a pleasant, angelic late evening film specially if you had a few beers.

"Symbol" illustrates Matsumoto charismatic ideas with a great production values (special effects, set, soundtrack). If you're into strange non blockbuster comedies, "Symbol" is a winner. Highly recommended.
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7/10
Why the 2nd storyline?
MdlndeHond14 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Two stories get combined here. Well actually they don't and that get's disturbing at some point. Like someone is flipping the channels for you. How ever beautiful visuals and that why the 7 rating.

The storyline of the Mexican wrestler is so Nacho Libre like and overdone it doesn't contribute. Appearantly it had to be something very opposite to the Japanese man in the room. That storyline is fascinating and on it's own it could have been a good movie. Because the stories get 'connected' in the last few minutes there is no building up. The plot is so childish. Is this all they could come up with, a slapstick? An extended neck to win a fight? Why not leave that storyline out all together, seriously.
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7/10
Imagine a Gary Larson 'Far Side' cartoon come to life
sharkies697 August 2010
Many viewers may find this film or the main character quite idiotic or stupid but those who enjoy physical comedy should get a lot out of it.

A very creative and imaginative concept with man in bright spotted pyjamas trapped in a white walled room. On the walls are hundreds of 'buttons'.

With no visible way out of the room, the man becomes desperate and curious and one by one begins to press the buttons, with each button delivering odd 'products' and 'ojects' that are seemingly no help to him getting out of the room.

At the same time, a parallel storyline runs of the real world, with an underdog Mexican wrestler getting ready for a bout.

The two story lines come together with mixed results.

I found the film to be very entertaining although was a little disappointed with the third act.

Funny and offering something different than the usual Apatow 'hits' churned out by Hollywood.

Anyone who likes early Jim Carrey style physical slapstick might enjoy this.
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5/10
surreal arty farce
sweepmoggy-7416229 July 2017
parallel stories , one in Mexico where nothing much happens until a funny fight scene that's linked to the other story.. a man in a white box pressing white penis buttons , some good gags & some arty pointless scenes especially after the funny fight scene.

fun to watch in parts but half of it is artsy dull stuff
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7/10
Weirdly enjoyable. Emphasis on weird.
rophihisuc11 November 2017
This is very surreal film. I suppose this is to be expected from the mind of the Matsumoto Hitoshi whose comedy style regularly utilizes absurdity.

It is difficult to describe this film (without giving spoilers) and far more difficult to explain it. The best description/explanation I can provide is that this film uses fantasy to showcase human psyche as we watch Matsumoto (who is never identified with a name) deal with a situation which he wakes up into with no understanding of how he got into it, who is controlling the situation, or what he is supposed to do, or not do, to escape from it. However, beyond my (perhaps pretentious) interpretation I honestly cannot describe it further. Maybe there is no explanation for it and it might be fair to say that Matsumoto was biting off more than he could chew in an attempt to create a deep, philosophical work which ultimately was just baffling. Or, maybe, it is intentionally nonsensical for no other reason than to be entertaining. It has to be seen to be believed.

The film that is closest in style to it that I can think of as I write this is perhaps "2001: A Space Odyssey", although, that film can at least be explained to some degree. This one, however, cannot be adequately explained as far as I can fathom, outside of each viewer's own personal interpretation of it.

This film has quite good graphic effects which is always a positive thing: nothing makes a film lose credibility more than dated graphics. It also has decent comedy elements throughout (again, to be expected from Matsumoto) and the "plot" was certainly intriguing.

It is difficult to determine if this film is better or worse than the rating I gave it since it is so uniquely weird that there isn't really any kind of yardstick to compare it to. Nevertheless, it was certainly engaging and definitely did not have low-quality production value so it surely can't be called bad.

I can't say that I enjoyed the secondary story-line since it only becomes relevant at the very end, and even then, only in the most minimal (albeit hilarious) way, so the frequent jumps from the primary story to the secondary one was jarring and, quite frankly, rather boring and irritating. I used these moments as a chance to go and make a cup of tea. Mercifully, though, these frequent interruptions are brief, lasting only about a minute or so at a time.

In my opinion this film is worth watching if for no other reason than to experience its insanity, but it is not something I would suggest lightly to someone. I recommend watching this film if: 1) you enjoy surrealism and/or 2) you are a fan of Matsumoto Hitoshi. Otherwise, I struggle to advertise it to a wider audience as it is definitely an acquired taste. I will likely watch it again sometime in the future just because it is so strange that it cannot be ignored.

Bizarre.
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