The Six O’Clock, One Man’s Dream is Another Man’s . . . Dream
The Six O’Clock, a short film by Judy Starkman, is something entirely new to Bookin’ with Sunny, though the genre is not new to Starkman. Why a film in a book review site? Two reasons: one, it’s my website and two, the film reminded me of a short story.
The opening image is scenic: iconic, pointy cypress trees, a hilltop Eichler-like ranch house with pool, and a tastefully decorated modern interior overlooking a sprawling Los Angeles. But it is the second image that asks you to pay as careful attention to what you are seeing as is the man examining his face in a steamy bathroom mirror.
We follow this man as he prepares himself for work, carefully applying near invisible makeup, methodically selecting his clothing and other preparations indicating the importance of being in good form, vocally and mentally. We stay with him as he drives to an unidentified studio and finally as he is seen on air. You’d swear The Six O’Clock was a whole lot longer than nine minutes when the final credits roll.
How Starkman manages to pack so much into such a short film is her attention to detail and her certainty that film imagery has the same storytelling power as the written word. She also manages, with the deft performance of veteran Los Angeles news broadcaster Kent Shocknek, to allow both the seriousness and humor of such workday preparations to present themselves side-by-side.
The catch is — and now back to the mirror — are we really seeing what is going on? The Six O’Clock is about one man’s drive to succeed, to reach his goals. The film makes the viewer believe it is headed in one direction when, in fact, the real destination comes as comic shock, but not relief. The film succeeds when the laughter stops and the thinking kicks in, when the viewer wonders exactly what she was watching.
For those of us whose lives are filled to the brim, with little time to spare for the arts to move us, Starkman’s film has the brief, intense impact of a good poem or profound short story. The Six O’Clock is worth every one of its nine minutes and, also like a good poem or profound short story, it will haunt those who view it for a great deal longer. – Sunny Solomon