A new, unannounced David Lynch short film titled What Did Jack Do? is now available to stream on the global subscription service. Largely a two-hander, this noir homage, shot in B&W and suffused with film-like artifacts, sees Lynch applying stern questioning to a monkey in a suit about a murder. Naturally, the monkey talks back, and the bulk of the film is shot-reverse-shot of their conversation, which is steeped in Lynch’s trademark non-sequiturs and absurd sense of humor.
The film is compelling in that way that almost all of Lynch’s work is—his mastery of tone and spareness feed a discomfiting weirdness that isn’t easy to shake. And, c’mon the spectacle of a talking monkey in a suit never fails to entertain. Like much of Lynch’s extensive short film work however What Did Jack Do? is difficult to decode narratively or thematically, so you’ll get as much from it as you’re willing to put in. Lynch fanatics are currently rejoicing, but if you have yet to subscribe to the cult, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Netflix’s engagement with short film has been minimal to date, centering mostly on documentaries with Oscar potential. We highlighted the 10 Best Shorts on Netflix in 2018, but it’s a piece that is due for a revisit, as, in the interim, the service has unveiled interesting new projects in the short form from hi-profile creators—notably Thom Yorke and Paul Thomas Anderson’s short music film Anima, and the animated anthology Love Death + Robots, from Terminator: Dark Fate director Tim Miller. Cinephiles would surely proffer that providing a home for weird experiments from celebrated auteurs like Lynch is an excellent niche to pursue within Netflix’s enormous content budget (set to top $17B in 2020), so it will be interesting to see if further titles in this vein emerge later in the year.
Today’s release coincides with Lynch’s 74th birthday and was made with the participation of the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, the Paris museum created by the famed luxury brand in 1984. If you have a Netflix subscription, you can check out What Did Jack Do? at the link below.