Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (and other recent Netflix picks)

Though the title makes it sound like a horror movie, Resurrect Dead is actually a documentary that follows three amateur investigators as they attempt to track down the source of a series of strange plaques that, beginning in the 1980s, were found embedded in the asphalt of the streets of Philadelphia and numerous other cities in the U.S. and South America. I found the trio’s obsession with solving this admittedly trivial mystery endearing, and I could totally relate to the mix of gratification and letdown they felt when, having finally gotten their answer, they were forced to ask, “OK, now what?” Recommended for fans of urban mythology and historical arcana.

Some other offbeat titles worth checking out:

The People vs. George Lucas Ninety minutes of impassioned commentary from folks who are certain that Han fired first. I especially like the part where fans describe their five-stages-of-denial reaction to watching The Phantom Menace: “I saw it like seventeen times before I could finally admit how bad it was.”

Cropsey Documentary about a real-life boogeyman who haunted the grounds of the abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution on Staten Island. Bonus for Richard Price fans: Willowbrook is clearly the inspiration for the William Howard Chase Institute in the novel Freedomland, and there is a real “Friends of Kent” volunteer group (actually, it’s the Friends of Jennifer) that searches for missing children.

Between the FoldsA film about modern origami and its practitioners. My interest in what the interviewees was saying started to flag around the half hour mark, but the actual origami sculptures, some of which require hundreds of folds to produce, remained amazing throughout.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame And now for something completely different, a martial arts/sleuth story mash-up, set in 7th-century imperial China. Watch the trailer here.