The Short List: "What Did Jack Do?" (2020, dir. David Lynch)

The Short List: “What Did Jack Do?”

“In a locked-down train station, a homicide detective conducts an interview with a tormented monkey.”

The succinct description of the latest short film from iconoclast director David Lynch sounds like an absurd joke but is gloriously real. Playing a hardboiled investigator, Lynch interrogates a talking Capuchin monkey named Jack on a train diner. Jack is a suspect in a possible murder of a hen named Toototabon.

The film plays out like a classic noir, except it also feels like a bizarre dream. One has to experience it in its entirety to understand the full potency of Lynch grilling a monkey. Try as I might keeping a straight face, I lost it early on the moment Jack cracked under pressure, “Look at me! Are my pupils dilated?” The entire screenplay is a scream. Dripping with sublime absurdity, it does not rely on cheap jokes or puns to deliver its peculiar humor. “Are you calling me a liar? I know why the chicken crossed the road,” the investigator challenges Jack. The reply is “This conversation just came to a screeching halt.” 

David Lynch built his career on fearlessness. He is a filmmaker free from the constraints of the mainstream. So if he decides to stream a short film about a criminal monkey on his birthday, the reaction is universal acceptance. What Did Jack Do works well because of David Lynch. 

I wish I could acknowledge the voice behind Jack, especially since there’s a musical surprise, but the cheeky primate is credited as himself. Of course.


ABOUT “THE SHORT LIST”

The Short List is our running list of noteworthy short features available online. Each week, we recommend a short film worth watching. Click here to see the full list of short films—you can also submit your own.