Drama2011-2020AustraliaTed Wilson

Ted Wilson – Under the Cover of Cloud (2018)

Fired from his job writing for a weekend magazine, Ted Wilson decides to visit his family in Hobart. He realises his loss could be an opportunity to pursue something more meaningful: “I want to write something beautiful about cricket. A piece of literary non-fiction. It will in some sense be about Tasmanian batsmen and it will be from the heart.” Ted embarks on a search for legendary Australian cricketer and exalted Tasmanian, David Boon. Yet when the search stalls, Ted finds himself reconnecting with his widowed mother and adult siblings now with young children of their own.

“It’s an unlikely combination.
Two disparate figures.
Yasujiro Ozu, revered Japanese director from Tokyo active until 1963; and David Boon, a lauded contemporary Australian test cricketer born in Tasmania.
Yet both were forged together intimately by filmmaker Ted Wilson in his 2018 minimalist film Under The Cover of Cloud, his feature debut.
Ted Wilson, a droll sports enthusiast, has just lost his job writing a column in a travel magazine in Melbourne. We first meet him in free fall.
Originally a Tasmanian, he decides to go back to his homeland in Hobart.
Ted goes and visits his family. He dreams of writing a cricket fable more ‘literary than statistical’. He has meals with his family. Goes to a few gigs of some local bands. Smokes a cigar.
A cricketing buff, Wilson really wants to meet his sporting hero, fellow Tasmanian and prolific right handed batsman David Boon. This, he feels, may provide the spark he needs.
He finds his hero David. They talk. No golden bits of wisdom arise.
A film about ‘cricket and literature’, this is about all that ‘happens’ in Under The Cover of Cloud.
No sub-plots, romantic entanglements. No Sydney Harbour Bridge. Pieces of voice-over are dispersed throughout, adding to its kaleidoscopic and referential portraiture of the director’s homeland.
But there is more to the consideration of its construction than plot
Wilson’s screen persona is a quiet, leisurely introspective figure. It is an approach he applies to the form of the work, too. Take the near 11-minute scene in the film where Wilson helps his own mother Colleen tie back bushes, discuss neighbours’ pillars, their movements.
Or the moment he and his mother pull lemons off her tree. The fact the tree isn’t fully in bloom like “the orange tree over there”, that some lemons are bigger than others. That because of this she might have to ring up ‘Peter Cundull’.
It’s a focus on tiny details not unlike Late Spring, Ozu’s 1949 drama about an elderly, lonely father cared for by his daughter, who decides to marry her off. Despite the fact she looks after him.
In that pioneering drama, the daughter’s romantic life, even marriage, are not core concerns. Ozu instead uses the situation as a vehicle to examine the ennui and despair of the father (Chrishu Ryu), without his daughter. His loneliness in the face of giving her up. The wedding is not shown. The husband isn’t even revealed.
Ozu covers the gaps between father and daughter. Their dynamic is the pivot. There are no shouting matches. Only looks, glances – occasional remarks. Long takes, no cuts.
Compare this to the duration Cloud gives to the scene where Wilson helps his mother with trees. The only real action is gardening. Or the way Ted meets his hero. The ‘goal’ of the film. The meeting lasts a mere four minutes long.
As well as not having a ‘plot’, there are no dramas in the family. No big shots of Hobart. Many scenes are simply long, uncut conversations – ruminative chats with no goal reached, or even in mind. Dinners. Lunches. In houses, kitchens.
This in a nutshell, is the crux of Wilson’s work. Inspired unmistakably by the director of Early Summer in his slow, stubborn execution, Wilson toyed with larger cuts of this film which replicated a test cricket match. He reportedly cut his 88-minute feature from a 15-hour initial edit.
As well as being improvisatory, this gives the feature a semi-documentary feel – another mirror to the later works of Yasujiro Ozu.
A key pillar of realism in movies at the end of his career, Ozu veered away from erstwhile gangster, melodrama and genre movies to focus chiefly on family and domestic trials. Efforts such as Good Morning (1959), which followed two boys who refuse to talk until their parents buy a TV. Or An Autumn Afternoon (1962) – about an aging man’s bond with his children.
Even the approach to filming his actors reflected realism. On these works Ozu largely operated without coverage – the standard process of filming from multiple angles and interspersing together. Instead, he favoured capturing his scenes with long takes, not cutting – without using fades or other segues. He would also frame subjects at a low angle as if the lens were at sitting height, to evoke intimacy and compassion for his characters’ plights.
Similarly, Ozu often ended his chronicles with the smallest resolution, a gradual change. At the end of Late Spring, father Shukichi sits alone, at home, his daughter moved out. Married. He’s by himself. We see shots of empty chairs and desolate hallways – no nuptials. Ozu chose not to focus on a melodramatic outcome, but a more slight shift – possibly just a variation in circumstances.
These stories, too, often unfolded in interiors – humble bedrooms and doorways. Not so much outside landmarks. It’s a mindset not vastly different from Wilson’s story, which takes place in a Hobart deliberately not out of a postcard.
At the end of Late Spring, the aging Shukichi slowly peels an apple, bit by bit, cuts a very long piece of skin, it falls to the ground. Wearily, he looks down.
A flow of waves come up, not unlike the waves at the beginning of Wilson’s voyage home.
Like Ozu, Jim Jarmusch and the earlier American independent director John Cassavetes, all of whom were cited references on this work, Under The Cover Of Cloud is lined with minute, unusual, autobiographical details, as those above filmmakers put in their works.
Ideas of James Joyce are mixed with statistics and reputations of Australian Cricket heavyweights Ricky Ponting, David Boon. Illusions of classic novels are interspersed with idle chats with real mother Colleen about relatives and houses. Cricket statistics are espoused, figures quoted.
It references and usurps the convention of the traditional narrative journey by the fact nothing is gained at the end of that journey. And rather than scenes with Wilson tracking down his hero, he gets a text at a food court.
Using these pretexts to examine quiet, nuanced subjects, another director Cloud follows the tradition of is Belgian practitioner Chantal Akerman.
Like the above filmmakers, Akerman also made slowly-moving, very still works without plot, shot on small budgets. Often these centred on stories with minimal dialogue, using long takes. These often sat between narrative, like Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978), and more abstract, like Je Tu Il Elle (1974). In Je Tu Il Elle, Akerman is the only character for most of the film, by herself in her apartment. As well as being behind the camera, Akerman was in front, appeared naked, eating sugar, with a friend.
Much of it took place in a single room, no outcome or story, just basic mundane, repetitive moments of existence. Things not usually documented. Like the events in Wilson’s film.
It’s an approach crystallised in her short film La Chambre (1972), where the image-maker merely sits in her own bed. Many of these works, beside being autobiographical, akin to Wilson’s work, featured voice-over.
In that vein, Wilson, like his on screen alter-ego, really is from Hobart. It is Wilson’s real extended family on screen, playing themselves. Semblances of fiction and documentary in Wilson’s film are too joined together to form a hybrid non-fiction portrait.
Aforementioned reference and New York ‘no-wave’ movement leader Jim Jarmusch also made minimalist films which could seem, on book, about ‘nothing’. Works centring on fringe-dwellers and low-lifes who wander around, waiting for things to happen. Frequently, like the plight of Wilson, they didn’t.
In his first feature Permanent Vacation (1980), a drifter, Allie (Chris Parker), strolls Manhattan searching for purpose and meaning, running into his girlfriend (Leila Gastil) and having interactions with strangers. This in a nutshell, is the film. Observations and the most slight by-the-way chats make up the rest of it.
For much of it, Allie is seen listening to jazz in his room. He has occasional moments of discourse with his girlfriend. He walks around the streets. Sometimes, SFX can be heard of bombs dropping.
The minimalism and lack of plot of Vacation itself harkens to the early films of Jean-Luc Godard. In a key scene, Allie goes to a Nicholas Ray film (The Savage Innocents, 1960), a director revered by the French critic-turned-director, and talks to a stranger in the foyer. Rather than showing Allie watching the movie, they have a long discourse about other subjects. Two strangers talk in a theatre lobby. They’re not going places.
Like in Cloud, the littlest, overlooked details are emphasised. Jarmusch’s film also had some voice-over, and a vignette, ramshackle documentary style feel; punctuated by handheld shots, long takes. It’s a rhythm traceable in Wilson’s style.
At the conclusion of Permanent Vacation, Allie aimlessly hops on a boat to Paris, setting sail to live the rest of his life. No concern of what tomorrow will bring.
The final shot, on the boat, is not unlike the scene of Wilson sailing to Tasmania.
Yasujiro Ozu once said “I just want to make a tray of good tofu. If people want something else, they should go to the restaurants and shops.”
A mixture different, but in some ways not unlike what’s concocted here. ” – Anthony Frajman

Under The Cover Of Cloud (Ted Wilson 2018).mkv

Container:  	Matroska
Runtime: 	1 h 27 min
Size: 	1 015 MiB
Codec: 	h264
Resolution: 	1280x720 
Aspect ratio:  	16:9
Frame rate: 	25.000 fps
Bit rate: 	1 500 kb/s
BPP: 	0.065
#1:  	2.0ch AAC LC @ 128 kb/s




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button