Originally premiered on November 2017 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris, it wasn’t until Netflix made What Did Jack Do? widely accessible to the public earlier this year.
Written and directed by David Lynch, this surreal 17-minute short film takes place in a single location (a makeshift interrogation room in a locked-down train station) where a nameless chain-smoking detective (David Lynch) questions a suspect named Jack Cruz — a capuchin monkey — related to a murder investigation.
Shot in a scratchy black-and-white reminiscent of the 1940s film noir, the bizarre idea of featuring a suspect in the form of a talking capuchin monkey is pure David Lynch. The kind of oddball black comedy, complete with a deadpan humour that almost reminds me of Lynch’s own Twin Peaks series. It even features the eccentric director himself as the detective, all dressed up in a formal black and white suit that echoes his Gordon Cole character in the aforementioned series. The only things missing here is the hearing aids and his penchant of speaking out loud.
The movie’s highlight, of course, lies on Lynch’s hilarious send-up of the old-school film noir. Not the straight-up Leslie Nielsen kind but more of Lynch’s own peculiar ways of making fun of the classic hardboiled dialogues (e.g. ‘There’s an elephant in the room”, “I’d like you to start talking turkey”, “You’d toss an animal up on a roof just to see the look on its face”).
He plays it with a straight face, purposefully deconstructs the verbal conversation between the detective and the suspect by making the dialogue sounds odd, disjointed and gibberish. It’s like listening to two drunkards and stoners talking nonsense. And yet, in true David Lynch fashion, he manages to make it work, albeit not entirely.
What Did Jack Jo? is currently showing on Netflix.