Best known in Japan as Matchan from owarai duo Downtown, comedian-turned-director Matsumoto Hitoshi landed a critical and commercial hit in 2007 with his directorial debut Dai Nipponjin, an oddball mockumentary about a loser superhero. His 2009 sophomore film Symbol is an even more idiosyncratic and bizarre effort that was again shrouded in secrecy during production. Matsumoto again pulls triple duties as director, writer, and leading man for Symbol, and this time, he is virtually the film's only cast member. Symbol jumps between two threads, one about a Mexican wrestler named Escargot Man and the other about a trapped man trying to escape a white room full of cherubs. The third act ties together the two stories in spectacularly mind-blowing fashion. Reveling in fantasy, absurdity, and physical humor, Symbol has topped critics' lists, while also leaving many scratching their heads.
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