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By Chris Boeckmann
True/False Film Festival, Columbia USA
/José González is one of Sweden's most successful musicians. Throughout the
2000s, his songs appeared during crucial moments of multiple sappy US/UK teen dramas,
causing debut album sales to top 700,000 copies worldwide (accolades from critics didn't hurt).
José is also popular in his home country, taking home multiple awards, including a Swedish Grammy.
While José's music very much fits under that wide umbrella of sensitive guys with acoustic guitars,
it's also unique in its intimacy, its honesty, and its enchanting beauty. By all accounts, José is a musician
at the top of his game, a fascinating human being and a subject worthy of a traditional music documentary.
THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE OF JOSE GONZALEZ is not that documentary.
Avoiding all the popular tropes of music documentary filmmaking--e.g. talking head interviews,
crowd shots, indulgent tour footage--and ignoring straightforward commentary on the dullest,
most obvious topics--e.g. fame, tedious biography, the songwriting process--directors Mikel Cee Karlsson
and Fredrik Egerstrand have instead crafted a beautiful, sly and radically intimate portrait of a quietly
In THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE, Karlsson and Egerstrand explore
universal themes like loneliness, boredom and isolation, all the while creating a film that very much feels
OF JOSE GONZALEZ, embracing and reflecting the unassuming intelligence, beauty and humor of his music.
Karlsson and Egerstrand track José as he records his sophomore album and tours the world. Though he's
playing in front of thousands of ecstatic fans and staying in nice hotels, the directors choose to entrench
audiences in a rich atmosphere of emptiness and silence. The audiences are heard but not seen. The fan and
journalist interactions are awkward and dull. The hotel rooms are lonely.
Karlsson and Egerstrand find wry humor
in all of this, and, given that the film seems to be spilling out of his head, it feels safe to say that José does, too.
In addition to beautifully shot observational footage, Karlsson and Egerstrand also incorporate clever animated
sequences and wonderful clips of José talking in a stream of consciousness. As random as that all may sound,
Karlsson and Egerstrand manage to demonstrate remarkable aesthetic control throughout the film: this is one of
the prettiest documentaries of the year.
With THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE OF JOSE GONZALEZ,
Karlsson, Egerstrand and Gonzalez have made not a niche music documentary but a universal art documentary/
By Marit Kapla Artistic Director Göteborg International Film Festival
/A look inside the studio of artist José González. José sits down to try out a few guitar chords. He gets up, fidgets a little with the equipment. He sits down again, plays, stops, thinks. "Why am I so slow?" he ponders in a voice-over. Using congenial methods: video diary, surveillance camera, concert footage, tour documentation and clever animations by Per-Isak Snälls, filmmakers Mikel Cee Karlsson (Greetings from the Woods, GIFF 2009) and Fredrik Egerstrand succeed in capturing something as elusive as the creative process of one of Sweden's finest - and most secretive - musicians. The exquisite parts form a whole that, if you like, can be read as an ardent defence of the beauty of art and of the ones who create it/