With all this stuff going on in the world right now, be it horrible mass shootings, the tragic murder of a British politican, fearmongering, and yes, cyberbullying (I mention that as we await what Richard Armitage has to say on that subject today), I find myself thinking of empathy. That leads me to the ‘philosophy of empathicalism’, the fictional philosphical theory used in the 1957 movie Funny Face with Audrey Hepurn and Fred Astaire. Here are two clips of the movie that I put together in one video, explaining the theory:

These clips and sending up empathy make me laugh! They also show me that only empathy (and ‘thoughts and prayers and sympathy’) isn’t enough. We need the right words and actions to back it up in all situations in life! Empathy means trying to understand the other and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, just like Atticus Finch says to his daughter Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

Empathy is a wonderful thing but it shouldn’t stop there. From empathy grows discussion and then hopefully positive action and change. This goes for the aftermath of the recent tragedies we have witnessed as well as for anything yet to come on this Cybersmile  “Stop Cyberbullying Day” that Richard Armitage has subscribed to.

What I hope for after whatever message Richard Armitage sends about cyberbullying is that it sparks healthy, critical discussion but that it does not turn to vitriol and trolling (so brilliantly explained by Servetus in her recent post). I expect his message to be empathicalist (yay! I’ve connected Richard Armitage to Audrey Hepbrun!) and whatever happens afterwards will range from extreme adoration to the extremely critical, all valid reactions. However, being critical does not equal being hateful or bullying and empathy does not equal wordless acceptance.

In my view, empathy is only the beginning and I believe we need to build on that. I think Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) in Funny Face may have understood that: empathy alone is not enough… Let the (constructive) games begin!


Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers dance!

The latest “Mach was” (“do something”) challenge is a call to do something with dance and I have to say, I was stumped for a while. What to do with dance? I once did ballet from the age of 10-14 but, while fun, it never really inflamed a passion for me. I do enjoy going to the ballet, but not enough to actually write a whole post about it. I just don’t see ballet often enough. So, what else could I do with dance? What do I like and how can I connect that with dance? Well… I love the movies… and hey, presto, there was the idea!

The first thing that springs to my mind when I think of films and dance is… Fred Astaire! And it didn’t stop there, I immediately had this image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers doing their Cheek to Cheek dance number in the film Top Hat. If you look closely, you can see the feathers flying off Ginger Roger’s dress as she is being twirled around. And I thought of the dance (Never Gonna Dance from the movie Swing Time) where they each have to twirl up this staircase. To get the timing right, it had to be repeated so often that Ginger Roger’s feet were reportedly bleeding by the end of it. And I thought of the roller skates dance… and the dance where Astaire demonstrated to a dance school owner how much Rogers has apparently taught him (also from the movie Swing Time)… Of course I could have gone into Fred Astaire’s solo performances as well, which were just as wonderful, but no, the partnership with Ginger Rogers beckoned. What’s a girl to do but follow her heart, right? So Rogers & Astaire it is for this challenge!

Fred Astaire had many great dance partners but the one he somehow shared the most magic with was Ginger Rogers. Katharine Hepburn reportedly once said of them: “He gives her class and she gives him sex appeal” and I think that hits the nail on the head. They fit, they molded together very well and they danced brilliantly (even though Ginger Rogers still had a lot to learn when she started out).

Fred-Astaire-and-Ginger-Rogers4Those two just floated in each other’s arms in the romantic dances and the fun just jumped off the screen in their lively, more playful numbers.

Their tapdancing was always fun and, as mentioned above, they even tapdanced on roller skates once (Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off in the film Shall We Dance?)!


Fred Astaire (1899-1987) had danced in shows and revues with his sister Adele very succesfully on Broadway and in London until she got married in 1932. He then went into films on his own and very soon (in 1933, in his second film!) he was paired in a supporting role with Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) in a movie called Flying Down to Rio. A review said that, “Astaire starts dancing where the others stop hoofing.”

Astaire and Rogers were an immediate success and although Astaire wasn’t keen to be in a ‘partner act’ again (it had taken him a while to live down the partnering reputation with his sister), he was persuaded to first make one more movie with Rogers (The Gay Divorcee), and then persuaded to make many more. Between 1934 and 1939 they starred in 8 movies together and most of them were box office hits. The stories weren’t that deep, the plots sometimes convoluted but the films were fun, it was pure entertainment, and the dancing was of course magical. Many of the songs in those movies are all time classics!  After a break of 10 years, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made one last movie together in 1949 called The Barkleys of Broadway.


A dance commentator (John Mueller) analysed the magic of these two together as follows: “Rogers was outstanding among Astaire’s partners not because she was superior to others as a dancer, but because, as a skilled, intuitive actress, she was cagey enough to realize that acting did not stop when dancing began … the reason so many women have fantasized about dancing with Fred Astaire is that Ginger Rogers conveyed the impression that dancing with him is the most thrilling experience imaginable”. And Fred Astaire himself once said: “She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong.” He credited the success of their partnership largely to her.

In the 1950s Rogers career declined, there being a lesser demand for ‘older’ Hollywood actresses. Fred Astaire’s career remained more or less successful and in later years he also branched out into television. Both of them remain best remembered for their partnerhip in 10 films, however; a partnership that started 83 years ago! I am amazed at how fresh and good the dancing still looks and find that it still holds up well today…

I have spent a little time creating a YouTube playlist with some of their dance numbers that are among my own favourites. If you have some time, take a peek!

This and that

Gosh, I really do have a lot of internet stuff to catch up on! But first had to finish this Miss Fisher video set to a Fred Astaire song. I felt the lyrics quite suited Jack’s story. 🙂

I have always loved Fred Astaire! Here, have him and Ginger Rogers on roller skates!

In other news: the first new Bridget Jones movie trailer has been released (Bridget Jones’s Baby). I’m not sure what to think of it. It all seems such a rehash of the the first two movies… Of course I will have to see it when it comes out because of, well, Colin! And Emma Thompson is in it too! But I don’t know if I like this whole “I don’t know who the father is” scenario…

There are some Richard tidbits too… looks like he’s had a fun Easter…

And now there’s Armitage & the chimps (sounds like a 60s band name)! Richard seems to have joined yet another cause, going by a tweet picture posted by his co-star Michelle Forbes…

Armitage & the chimps

No idea what this is about yet, and I love Richard’s good heart, but his cause-supporting is all over the place, influenced by whatever project he is working on or whatever co-star he is working with. I wonder which cause is truly closest to his heart?

Outta here, real life beckons…

Cheering up on a rainy day

This is what I like to watch on a rainy day like today:

In the past (albeit long ago) I have even re-enacted this on occasion, outside on the streets! It really does make rainy days less somber. The movie “Singin’ in the Rain” is full of great numbers, like “Make ’em Laugh” and “Good morning” (that I still regularly sing to myself when I have a cheerful morning)

And then Gene Kelly makes me think of Fred Astaire and the awesome stuff he did in film dancing, like this one on roller skates!

And then I get nostalgic for old movies and old songs in movies, and I think of this:

Oh, how I love Audrey Hepburn! And Audrey Hepburn makes me think of Ingrid Bergman, my other favourite actress from long ago:

Casablanca is still a masterful movie… (and has another classic music scene where the people in the café drown out the Nazis’ singing with The Marseillaise).

Of course, when thinking of music in films, “The Sound of Music” pops up in my head as well. Quite some kitsch in there, but I can’t help myself, I love the film (I even went to a Sound of Music sing-a-long once, and boy, was that fun!). So, here’s “Edelweiss” (oh, and I adore the Baroness’s sarcastic comment just before Captain von Trapp starts singing):

Another one I like, although not so old (my kids would disagree, this is from before my eldest was born) is something Heath Ledger did in “10 Things I Hate About You” that makes me grin every time:

Another modern one that just makes me laugh from the movie “Enchanted”:

And of course, Monty Python makes me happy. I could link to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from their absolute masterpiece film “The Life of Brian”, but I’ll choose the Galaxy Song instead (from “The Meaning of Life”), and then in the version as sung by Stephen Hawking!

And that is how you make a grey rainy day all happy and cheerful! 🙂