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|Index||16 reviews in total|
15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Mindf***, 25 August 2010
Author: eferoth from Germany
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.
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.
8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
It helps if you know Japanese slapstick - but just a bit, 6 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.
11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
One of the weirdest movies you'll ever see.., 6 May 2010
Author: KnatLouie from Copenhagen, Denmark
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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 ala Santos (or 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 kind of artsy. This movie is not to be missed. You will probably never see anything quite as weird and funny like this. 9.5/10
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A wonderful tale of the harsh reality of life along a man's quest to reach absolution and his trail through life., 13 June 2011
Author: George Antoniadis
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.
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Great and challenging movie because it cannot be summarized in the usual cinematic linear form., 20 December 2010
Author: Famous Comrade from United States
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.
8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A newer take on Kubrick's 2001, 29 June 2010
Author: Adam Cuttler from United States
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.
8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
I loved it... but could have ended up hating it just as well, 20 April 2010
I saw this movie at the Brussels Fantastic Film Festival, and I loved
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.
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Great weird film!, 7 October 2010
Author: emm7 from London, UK
"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.
6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Jodorowsky meets Kubrick Meets Nacho Libre Meets.... Just see this film all the way to the end., 9 July 2010
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
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
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.
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Panic Room, 28 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
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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