Twin Peaks and Lost Highway director David Lynch celebrated his 74th birthday on Monday by releasing a new short film. It features the director questioning a murder suspect who just so happens to be a monkey. What else would he be doing?
His latest film -- What Did Jack Do? -- proves that the auteur can create his own brand of weirdness just for Netflix.
The 17-minute short debuted Monday, and it may frustrate viewers unfamiliar with Lynch's style of storytelling: It's an offbeat black-and-white trip about a talking monkey with something to hide.
Lynch himself features as the interrogator of the suit-wearing capuchin monkey named Jack Cruz. Surrounded by the requisite cloud of cigarette smoke in a train station setting, Lynch grills the monkey suspect with the kind of detective questions that would be right at home in a Raymond Chandler novel.
The animal-themed dialogue -- "I'd like you to start talking turkey," "There's an elephant in the room" -- is sweetly funny. Jack (the monkey) often responds (translated via subtitles) with evasive one-liners that make little sense: "I'll see you and raise you five."
A moment comes where Jack, under a spotlight, sings a truly soft-on-the-ears love song including lyrics: "True love's flame burns so bright/It's love delight/Once upon a time, we danced/Once upon a time, we took a chance."
Lynch often puts his characters on stage singing in an unusual setting: See nightclub singer Dorothy's (Isabella Rossellini) haunted crooning in 1986's Blue Velvet, and Rebekah Del Rio's sad Spanish a cappella version of Roy Orbison's legendary song "Crying" in 2001's Mulholland Drive. In Lynch's short, Jack's singing actually makes you feel empathy for the otherwise shifty little monkey.
While short in length, What Did Jack Do? has plenty of time to show off Lynch's supreme talent for surreal storytelling (and acting). When Jack speaks, his mouth movements might not be as sophisticated as other live-action talking animal movies, but it contributes to a trip vastly more enjoyable than 2019's Cats and 2020's Dolittle combined.
If anything, What Did Jack Do? is a reminder to fans of Lynch's penchant for exploring the unusual in all formats (and those explorations end up unexpected movie hits).
His surreal TV murder mystery creation Twin Peaks from the '90s became something of a cult classic. Lynch continued the story with Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017 for Showtime, and the series ended up breaking viewer records.
Even his first extremely experimental horror film Eraserhead is listed as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by US Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
Lynch hasn't directed a traditional feature film since 2006's Inland Empire, so this short is a treat for fans like myself. That being said, Twin Peaks: The Return TV series on Showtime could be watched as a film, which is the way Lynch intended it to be viewed.
Hopefully, What Did Jack Do? hints Lynch might be in talks with Netflix to create more for the streamer. Lynch's signature style of weird and innovative filmmaking could be right up Netflix's alley.
And I wasn't the only one who appreciated Lynch debuting a new movie via streaming. Fans who noticed that his new film was added to Netflix posted their own mini reviews on social media.
"Netflix just released David Lynch's new short film, 'What Did Jack Do' in which David plays a detective interrogating a monkey who is suspected of murder, my day is now complete," one fan tweeted.
"Would you all believe me if I told you this made me cry?" another wrote. "Funny, sweet, and bizarre in the way only David Lynch knows how, this might be one of my favorite things he's ever done."
"Maybe if we all watch David Lynch's new short enough times, Netflix will give him the money to make Antelope Don't Run No More," one fan tweeted. "It's been described as one of the best things he's written, and apparently involves space aliens, talking animals and a musician named Pinky."
See more positive reactions (and birthday wishes) below.