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DaveHoward Written by DaveHoward
May. 1, 2008 | 9:58 PM
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Hats Off!

We tend to spend way to much time gagaing over Britney, Lindsay and Paris. 
These are really short term prospects that, will in the long run, will appear as blips on the map ten years from now.  Who should we really be fascinated by? I’ve always felt that there is a general lack of appreciation for the sturdy “actors for hire” that tow the line on day in day out of the drudgery of auditioning, speaking a handful of lines and moving on the next project.  Woody Allen this week, Law and Order next week and then perhaps a teen slasher flick the week after that.

It’s all in a day’s work.

A truly amazing portrait of 93 year old Mimi Wendell, HATS OFF, is an inspired account of what is really possible with your own life. Mimi is a throwback to flapper feminism (think Dorothy Parker). It wasn’t a movement then, it was called “being true to yourself.”

Mimi had always wanted to be an actress. However, family and economic needs putting a long hold on the dream. When her husband dies she goes to an audition on the way to the funereal. This is how an acting career starts ... at the age of 63. Buoyed by her mantra “Rise Above it” Mimi then becomes one of the most regularly used character actresses out there. A true model for anyone trying to break into the businesses, she truly believes the Strasberg theory—“No small parts, only small actors”. In one memorable, of many, clips of her work she can be seen briefly in “The Purple Rose of Cairo” buying movie tickets. Her line?

“Two, please.”

We follow her through her acting and a most impressive modeling career. Most will muse at her Nike commercial in which she does a routine on the parallel bars. Could I do that now… in my 30’s?

Director Jyll Johnstone’s filmmaking style is competent but left me wanting more of a story arc.  While the film spans several years of her life, one can’t help but wonder why the film needed ten years to tell Mimi’s story.  It could have just as easily been one week. Mimi’s philosophy and lifestyle is the star of the show here.  The film is filled with fortunes du Mimi, each of which are priceless reminders of the best parts of the journey that is life.

In true maverick Mimi Wendell style, the film is being self distributed. Check out the Laemmle website for theaters showing it.


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