is celebrating his 74th birthday today (Jan. 20), and the singular filmmaker has marked the occasion as only he can: by giving us all the gift of What Did Jack Do?, a surprise, 17-minute short film that debuted on Netflix Monday out of the clear blue sky. Lynch stars in the black-and-white short as “a homicide detective [who] conducts an interview with a tormented monkey [...] in a locked-down train station,” per the short’s synopsis. We’ll give you a minute or two to process that information.
Written, directed and edited by Lynch, and made to look like an old-timey noir film, What Did Jack Do? is an absurdist comedy that consists mostly of Lynch and Jack Cruz the monkey—seemingly also voiced by Lynch—exchanging folksy non sequiturs (“They say real love is a banana: sweet with a golden hue,” Jack opines at one point). Its dramatic conclusion is preceded by Jack performing a musical number called “True Love’s Flame,” co-written by Lynch. Needless to say, it’s well worth your 17 minutes.
Lynch shot What Did Jack Do? in 2016, and has screened the short at his Festival of Disruption and select other events since, per /Film. The director’s last feature film was 2006’s Inland Empire—he more recently returned to form with 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return, an acclaimed 18-episode sequel to his early-’90s cult-classic series.
You can stream What Did Jack Do? via Netflix here.