“Mathematics, science, being able to use
the English language: These tests don’t measure it and they don’t
improve it — so why do they exist?” the president of Bard College says
early in “The Test and the Art of Thinking,” a documentary about the SAT exam.
His sentiment is echoed throughout this
insightful film as the director, Michael Arlen Davis, interviews dozens
of exasperated students, academics and others who declare that the SAT
(and the ACT) fail to accurately gauge potential, ability or creativity.
“It’s not a math test, it’s not a reading
test, it’s a get-the-answer test,” says one private tutor. Together,
those interviewed make a strong case against the exam and its
administrator, the College Board. Yet even though they agree on the inadequacy, and even the harmfulness, of the test, few can avoid being involved with it.
Colleges, too, are shown to be stuck in a
quandary: to rely less on the SAT could mean that the average score of
admitted students falls. That would cause a college’s rankings to slip,
which would hurt its ability to recruit students and raise money. More
worrisome is evidence that high schools are caught in a cycle of their
own, in which they gear curriculums toward test preparation rather than
Originally published in The New York Times By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS Published: March 28, 2008.
Widowed at 65 by a husband who left only unpaid bills and fond
memories, the indomitable Ms. Weddell saw an opportunity to follow her
passion. “I love illusion,” she says, describing an acting career that
has paid her bills for almost three decades. From “Law & Order” to
“Sex and the City,” from vampire movies to cheese commercials, this
remarkable woman has compiled a résumé that defies the industry’s
rampant ageism. And while her aristocratic looks and powerhouse
personality — and an elegant way with a cigarette holder — have no doubt
contributed to her success, so too has a willingness to work 14-hour
days and fight for roles.
“Mimi’s driven,” says her son, Tom, who shares his mother’s East Side
Manhattan apartment along with his sister, Sarah Dillon, and other
family members. And as the filmmakers, Jyll Johnstone and Michael Arlen
Davis, strive to keep up with their subject’s punishing schedule of
dance lessons, gym workouts, auditions and even a sightseeing trip to
Florence, their movie seldom flags. For Ms. Weddell, standing still may
be life’s only remaining terror.
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Directed by Jyll Johnstone; edited by Kate Stilley Steiner and Bill
Weber; music by Frankie Spellman and Stevie Buzzell; produced by Ms.
Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis; released by Canobie Films and
Abramorama. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. This film is not rated.
Sir Ken Robinson—the globally recognized expert and bestselling author on creativity and education—has included an extensive reference to our film Hats Off in his book, Finding Your Element.
He cites the film’s subject, Mimi Weddell, as the perfect example of someone who follows her own dreams even when they fly in the face of societal norms, and as a result happily finds her own “Element.” He references Hats Off as “the acclaimed documentary,” and quotes director Jyll Johnstone’s reflection of Mimi, “It’s amazing how she touched so many lives.” We are very excited to see such a great reference to the film, especially coming from a thought leader like Sir Ken Robinson; and we encourage everyone to check out Finding Your Element, and, if you haven’t seen Hats Off yet, to check that out as well.
“Jyll Johnstone’s irresistible “Hats Off” documents Mimi Weddell, a Manhattanite who, at 93, has pretty much cornered the market playing elegant, very old ladies in movies, TV, commercials and print ads.” – Lou Lumenick, March 28, 2008