Friday, October 23, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Paradise Road - Group Shot

Group shot from Paradise Road, Cannon Square, Penang. Glenn Close and Juianna Margulies are kneeling at center.  See how many other stars you can find in the first row.  Click to enlarge!

This is a group shot taken from the set of Paradise Road from my article, "Close Encounters with Glenn Close" in Tropical Affairs. This is Cannon Square, behind Khoo Khongsi Temple in Penang. Set during World War II and based on a true story, Paradise Road revolves around a group of women who were evacuated from Singapore before its fall prior to the Japanese. Their ship was accidentally sunk by the Japanese, who thought only sailors were aboard, not women and children. After being washed ashore in Sumatra, the survivors were rounded up by the Japanese and marched toward a makeshift concentration camp.

To endure the many hardships and the humiliation, including forced prostitution as comfort women, the imprisoned women formed a choir that sang a cappella, which moved their Japanese captors.

Directed by Bruce Beresford (who won an Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy , the film starred Americans Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, 101 Dalmations), Francis McDormand (who won an Oscar for Fargo), and Julianna Margulies of the TV program ER; England’s Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice) and Elizabeth Spriggs (Sense and Sensibility); and Australian Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, and who an Oscar for The Aviator).

Glenn Close and Juianna Margulies are sitting at center. I'm behind the camera wearing a cute sailor outfit (see link here). I snuck in a camera and then snuck over and stood beside the official photographer for Paradise Road. I have this enlarged and framed in my office at home. Cool shot; great memories!

*Here's also a link to three of my other films including the tango dance scene in Indochine.

**Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prove Them Wrong, Quill Oct-Dec 09





Click on to read.

*Update: The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady just advanced to the Quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012!  In 2010, an earlier version of The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady made it to Round Two. Then last year, after a major overhaul of the novel, and changing the title from The Lonely Affair of Jonathan Brady to The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady, it was shortlisted for 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom Award.  I knew I was on the right track, so I revised the novel last July/August 2011 and again January/February 2012 for this year’s competition.

***Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Anna and the King

Robert Raymer in Anna and the King

Here's a better look at those fake sideburns from Tropical Affairs, "The Crocodile and I". This shot is on the set for Anna and the King for the opening port scene, a converted Swettenham Pier in Penang to make it look like old Siam. Notice the ship at right. It's a fake facade attached to an ordinary yacht -- realistic isn't it? As realistic as those sideburns of mine.

*Link to "Robert and the Crocodile" excerpt from Tropical Affairs.
**Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Anna and the King: The Crocodile and I

Anna and the King: Robert Raymer holding crocodile

Taken on the set of Anna and the King, I'm in my period costume, complete with fake sideburns, proof that I held a live crocodile in my arms, a teenager according to one of my students from Sarawak, from the "The Crocodile and I" in my newly released collection of creative nonfiction, Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat's Life in Malaysia.


During the filming of Andy Tennant’s Anna and the King in 1998, while everyone else on the set was busy trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive Jodie Foster (who played Anna Leonowens) or Chow Yun-Fat (who played King Mongkut of Siam), I had my sights on bigger game.

For the opening port scene, when Anna arrives in Siam (shot in Penang, Malaysia), I was cast as one of the ten English gentlemen traders.  Like the other 800 extras for the scene, we were put in various positions along the U-shaped pier.  I was positioned with Andre, who actually was English.  Together we were given a minor task to look like we were doing some­thing other than just standing around.  With a lot of leeway to improvise, we worked on a routine pretending to check our imported goods against the custom ledgers so we could bring them into the country.

We then roped in two other extras assigned to move crates back and forth across the pier; soon “their” crates became “our” crates, which we fussed over to make sure they passed inspection even if we had to “bribe” the custom officials.
           
The routine was fun, and after a dozen takes from different angles, we had it down pat.  In addition to making us feel important, it gave Andre and me a valid reason to crisscross the pier, with ample opportunities for the cameras to pick us out of the crowd and perhaps even linger on us in our quest to get discovered, or at least noticed, so we could later see ourselves in the film.  This gives you a certain degree of bragging rights.  You could say to people, “Did you catch my latest film?”
           
Some of the extras who noticed us, especially the children, mistook us, the English Gentlemen, for the stars.  Later they hounded us for autographs, which we obliging gave.  That in itself made us feel like stars, which by the way, is huge step in getting noticed.  To be a star, you have to look like one.
           
Who did notice us was the crocodile. . .

                       --excerpt from “Robert and the Crocodile” from Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia

***Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Man, October 2009 review



Click on to read.

Somehow the old version of the back-of-book blurb was used! It should have said, "Robert Raymer has had the pleasure of chasing after a madwoman who stuffed his letter down her blouse, being trapped by a monitor lizard inside his own house, and being frisked by three men wearing pincushions."

***Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.