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The Short List: “What Did Jack Do?”

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

“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.


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.

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