by Alex Jackson I'll admit that I can't readily imagine anybody ever making a better film on the subject of the Toynbee Tile phenomenon than Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. The problem isn't that it's done poorly--it's that anybody thought it should have been done at all. Filmmakers Justin Duerr, Jon Foy, Colin Smith, and Steve Weinik worked on this project for five years, but I don't really understand why. Were they actually hoping to solve the mystery? And if they solved it, well, what then? Insofar as the Toynbee Tiles hold any interest for us at all, it's as a non sequitur, and what's the point of making sense of a non sequitur? Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose? As explained by WIKIPEDIA, the Toynbee Tiles are a series of messages embedded in asphalt across approximately two dozen American cities and four South American capitals. The message on each tile is essentially always the same: "TONYBEE IDEA/IN MOVIE 2001/RESSURECT DEAD/ON PLANET JUPITER." Sometimes "movie" is substituted with "Kubrick's" and oftentimes this main inscription is supplemented with paranoid asides about Jews, journalists, and the Mafia. Toynbee Tile enthusiasts believe that the "Toynbee idea" refers to a passage in historian Arnold Toynbee's Experiences that describes the possibility of the deceased coming back to physiological life rather than being resurrected in an immaterial supernatural dimension. Apparently, the tiler believes that Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is suggesting this rebirth will occur on the planet Jupiter. Duerr, a Philadelphia-area artist and musician who first became interested in the tiles in the mid-nineties, spearheads the investigation into their origin. It's an obsession over an obsession. What kind of person would make these tiles and what kind of person would be interested in the person who made these tiles? When ironic detachment is held onto long enough, it ceases to be ironic but doesn't exactly become sincere, either. Anybody who devotes five years of his life to a film about the Toynbee Tiles hasn't just wasted it--he's affirmatively stated that the deeper questions of human existence are no more material than a perverse preoccupation with kitsch. This is a profoundly obnoxious film.