“Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 2
On to the second week of my year-long challenge, I’m faced with the first suggested film that I’ve never heard of and knew absolutely nothing about going into it. Some would say that’s the best way to go into any film, so I was hopeful that it would benefit me greatly to sink into whatever this fairly obscure exposé documentary, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, had in store for me.
My initial thought within the first five minutes of watching this odd documentary was that these things have to just be a cypher. A scrambled puzzle that a young, Banksy-like goofball decided to leave out for the world to try to decipher.
The film unfortunately focuses a bit too much on the protagonist of this story, (Justin Duerr) and not enough actual journalistic digging into the mystery at hand. It meanders for more than a while into some nonsense about pigeons that have nothing to do with anything.
It does really start to pick up some steam near the half-way point once some like-minded individuals pool their efforts – really getting to the facts and trying to unravel the loose threads people had apparently been chasing for over a decade. Then, it’s revealed David Mamet had a one act play involving the exact message of the tiles, but claimed to have made it up? That can’t be just a coincidence. Now there are suspects that fit the profile, but lead to dead ends? It’s getting interesting now…
Then, right when the pacing is finally getting good, we go back into more about this Justin Duerr guy’s personal life and his beef with his art teacher. It screeches the story to a halt yet again – just like the pigeon detour earlier. It stinks.
Some fat trimming, better production values, and more journalistic effort would have made this a lot more compelling. Instead, it’s kind of just a weird phenomenon that’s lightly documented on film in barely more detail than you’d find on a cursory Wikipedia search. I did quite like the score by director Jon Foy, and it is an interesting enough story, but it could have been much better realized. It makes me think of something like Fincher’s Zodiac, and how much better this kind of tale could be told in an actual dramatic and visual way, rather than seemingly a bunch of broke, hipster, art-film nerds who got obsessed with a peculiar set of propagating tiles.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles was at the time of this review way down at #24,518 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #25,627 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Toynbee isn’t great, but it’s better than the lackluster Val Kilmer / Marlon Brando weirdness that is the Dr. Moreau remake/reimagining.
Let it be known that The Cutting Edge is one of the best cinematic romances – ever. It’s all about the incredible chemistry between D.B. Sweeney and incredibly alluring Moira Kelly, as well as the pitch-perfect script by Tony Gilroy. It skates right over Toynbee.
John Woo’s take on the Mission: Impossible world usually draws raised eyebrows, but I remember just sitting back and enjoying the ride the last time I watched it. It’s taking this matchup.
I remember coming to watch Cruel Intentions because my wife (then girlfriend) wanted to see it. It was much, much better than I had ever anticipated. Definitely the superior film in this pair-off.
Liam Neeson is kind of odd in his role as sexologist Alfred Kinsey (considering his transformation into senior action-star), but it has some genuinely interesting story components and solid performances from the stellar supporting cast (Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, and Oliver Platt). Worth watching over Toynbee – in any respect.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles vs. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
YUCK. Be gone, Indy. The biggest mystery here is why your last outing was so awful. It could have been – considerably not awful.
A cool undersea 3D Titanic wreckage doc from the master, James Cameron, definitely beats Toynbee.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles ends up at #669 out of 1349 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Now take a look at all the other films I’ve ranked in this challenge so far this year.