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Thoughts On HBO's Tele-Doc 'Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream'...

by Tambay A. Obenson
February 18, 2013 10:40 AM
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Beyonce HBO Doc

Multi-hyphenate Beyoncé Knowles' self-directed HBO documentary special, Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream, aired on Saturday, February 16, 2013.

I've been busy with the New Voices In Black Cinema Festival (which I'm the co-curator of) here in Brooklyn, NY, since Friday, so I haven't watched much TV in the last 3 days. I certainly didn't watch Ms Knowles' film on Saturday night, and, to be frank, it's not exactly high on my to-see list. Maybe I'll watch it some time down the road. Maybe not.

But if you did watch it, what did you think?

Not only does she obviously *star* in it, she also directed it, and was the film's executive producer.

In short, she pretty much controlled the whole show. So how much *truth* could be found in it? Did you learn anything you didn't already know about her? Was it, at the very least, well-made and engaging?

Dig in...

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  • Fran | December 20, 2013 3:19 AMReply

    I was looking forward to this because I thought we would actually see the raw Beyoncé, all of her being completely natural & honest with the camera. It was so work related & it only scratched the surface on who she really is. Unless she is all about work & has no depth?

  • skengy | February 26, 2013 1:24 PMReply

    I found the documentary extremely pretentious

  • Mia | February 26, 2013 11:43 AMReply

    The film was boring, and I think she only did it to prove that she was in fact carrying her own child. But for someone who had a miscarriage in the past, would have taken care of heeself even more! Instead she was on the floor on her belly dancing and shaking so much. I still think she was never pregnant.

  • ralphy | February 20, 2013 5:26 PMReply

    The fact that she directed it made me not want to watch it. Directing a documentary about yourself is like being the only person to taste your food if you were a chef. your opinion is bias. Of course you're going to make you look as good as possible, for that fact alone i decided not to watch it.

  • ADA | February 18, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    This interview with O and B, then the HBO. I felt like I was looking at someone who was abducted by aliens. Was me or her, she kept saying the same thing but in a different way. Something is missing from this woman. I WAS JUST LOST, and O kept filing in the blanks to help her out. All I could say was WOW,,,,

  • Amira | February 18, 2013 5:39 PMReply

    I watched it with my step-daughter and we are big Beyonce fans. We talked through some of it, but overall I didn't miss much. Plenty of pros here for Beyonce fans such as the acapella singing and in the studio footage. Her vocals are awe-inspiring and it reminds everyone the great vocal performer and entertainer that she is. The footage of her and Jay-Z was sweet and touching. The footage of their baby stole the show. Behind the scenes footage of some of the award performances and videos was nice. A great collection of home video. She chose a great money-generating method to do lead up promotion for the next album and to clear up rumors she chose to and give herself a more human appeal, an every-woman appeal. Even sharing the pain of a miscarriage allowed for people who are not fans and some overall haters feel a bond with her.

    The cons: Beyonce herself stated her story was never told and she was finally telling it, but outside of a person in their twenties and older who has followed her career, she gave almost no background to her story. No telling of how she started, the sacrifices her father and family made for her group's success. If you are not a follower of Beyonce I believe there would be a confusion to what you watched. Where was thee story? How did this phenom Beyonce begin? Also, I felt that a lot of the material introduced in the Doc was left hanging a bit and clarity was really given in the interview she gave with Oprah. The Oprah interview was almost like a companion piece that needs to be seen to make segments of the Doc complete. One of the most powerful parts of the Doc was her speaking in front of the laptop camera, hair pulled back, and she spoke about her father; the seperation of him as her manager, fond memories of him when she was young, how he pushed her to be better, taking her nephew to Paris with his father, being stressed and how she needs to let it go and make love to her husband... A very powerful reflection on fathers, BUT it was edited and the clips placed so far apart from each other that I think it lost the power it could have had if placed closer together.

    Overall, the first film attempt from her and executed overall solo (I can tell by the editing) it was well done. Great for fans and fascination, but not as great and complete a narrative it could have been.

  • bohemian princess | February 18, 2013 5:19 PMReply

    15 years later and I still haven't the faintest idea who Beyonce is. This documentary did little to reveal the mystique. Much like her cautiously guarded public persona Life is But a Dream is calculated, inauthentic, and much too glossy for my liking. If you're a Beyonce fan then this overly polished propaganda piece is exactly what will tickle your fancy. Beyonce is always "on" and her desire to be perfect makes her the furthest thing from relatable. If your eyes don't glaze over by the end credits then give yourself a cookie and a pat on the back. If inauthenticity is what I was searching for then I would have just watched her inauguration performance.

  • LoupeMorena | February 18, 2013 9:44 PM

    You're so right, I'm a fan of Beyonce's earlier work... her most recent albums only have a few good songs in my opinion, but I do think she's talented and knows how to market herself well. I got the same feelings watching the documentary. We don't really know that much about her, besides the stuff that has been revealed already and she wouldn't take it a step further in documentary by dealing with the really tough stuff, for example firing her father in more detail. It as if she scratched the surface of her emotions and then moved on to another performance or vlog entry. It just seemed too over edited and kinda of shallow attempt at a documentary. I felt very meh by the end. Yes her daughter is very cute... but that's not enough. I get the same feelings listening to her recent music. It's just trying to be deep, but only manages to scratch the surface... I thought would see more of the real her.. but I guess she's always on.... so there's no gritty other side of her. Wendy Williams is right... she has a kind of boring personality, or she's very good at hiding her other side. I'm starting to get the impression that's she's a robot or something. The only times we got to see another side to her is when her baby was kicking and when she discussed her miscarriage. I don't know what us going on but she does act like she's rehearsed everything she has to say beforehand. It'd as if she's been brainwashed to act perfect all the time, and it comes of as really boring.

  • Bee | February 18, 2013 4:51 PMReply

    Just to put it plainly: I watched the film just because it was on and I was bored, and I left the film feeling sorry for her because there is clearly something psychologically wrong with this girl. I don't know how to explain it, but she seems to be off mentally (in an MJ, minus the crazy plastic surgery and pedophilia, sort of way), and Jay Z seems like a parasite who took advantage of her. The film was eerie as hell, imo. Just my two cents. .

  • Troy | February 20, 2013 1:14 AM

    Same way I felt about Barack after hearing about excerpts of his book then meeting him in person. Only crazy people want to be that famous.

  • dee | February 18, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    I am like you Tambay...This was not a must see for me. I will watch it at my convenience. Without looking at this I think she is trying to get ppl to see who she really is (real) but it seems fake still. I like Beyonce and think she is really talented...but something never connectedwith me...I can't put my hands on it?

  • BeautyIAM | February 18, 2013 8:28 PM

    Yes, I would have to agree with you Dee. I haven't watched it yet, so I have no opinion about the documentary. I do like some of her solo material and I liked Destiny's Child growing up. I also enjoyed her half time performance. But there is something so contrived about her image that is off putting. I can't connect with her either. I would like to know what she does out side of entertainment. But its like all she wants us to know about her is that she is an entertainer. Thats boring to me.

  • PJ | February 18, 2013 4:40 PM

    I agree with you 1000%. In all honesty, I can completely forgot that it was coming on. I'm neither a fan nor a stan. I just don't have any interest. I think I would be more eager to see it if she didn't have 100% control but it still (as if) it would be very controlled or inauthentic in a way. I understand that she is human and appreciate her music and skills as an artist. But I cant relate to her at all. I don't know anything about her and I'm not sure that I care.

  • me | February 18, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    i'm not a fan of Beyonce's music, but i think she's a terrific performer.

    regardless, the B documentary is just a reminder that there are real people behind these self created facades. you don't have to be a fan of someone to respect their humanity. i still don't love her music, but i appreciate her reminding me she's a person, not a star.

  • dirtychai | February 18, 2013 1:07 PMReply

    Highs: I respect the work and the independence that she put into this project. I liked the footage of her team putting together her show. I love seeing the "non-glamourous" side of production.

    Lows: I nodded off, sent tweets and browsed the web throughout the film -- it was boring as hell.

  • Nikki | February 18, 2013 12:25 PMReply

    No one said she had to tell everything, but it was inauthentic and bland. Maybe she's just overall bland with no personality. It was just boring, there was absolutely no point to it.

  • Trace | February 18, 2013 2:21 PM

    She is not bland with no personality. I remember clearly from the Destiny's Child days when she used to profess her love for Popeye's chicken and roll her eyes at her fellow group members on camera. Just look at her mother and her sister's fiery personalities, her's is very similar. Hiding that part of her is one of the reasons she became as successful as she has. Kind of like how Whitney first came out as the "Black Princess" but she was actually a girl from the Newark, NJ hood.

  • Lesley | February 18, 2013 12:15 PMReply

    I am a Beyonce fan too but I don't think my opinion is bias. I thought it was an engaging movie. She never said 'Ok world I'll tell you everything you want to know'. She made the film to share what 'she chose' to share. The public feels like celebrities HAVE to tell all their business. I respect most that she and Jay Z are selective about what they share, with whom and when. I most enjoyed the 'talking into her laptop' moments best but overall, I appreciate what she did share with us. It was more like a video diary of the last few years than a documentary. Some people will find something to criticize about everything. I guess I'm a glass half full kinda person. :)

  • Nikki | February 18, 2013 11:26 AMReply

    It was bland and boring. Everything was so calculated and kind of pretentious. Nothing was said that people didn't already know about. To be honest, I didn't get the point of any of it. I mean it's just promotion for her upcoming album.

  • Wise | February 18, 2013 3:51 PM

    "To be honest, I didn't get the point of any of it. I mean it's just promotion for her upcoming album."

    Then isn't THAT the point? Promotion. The point is clearly that she has led a career that is controlled to the extreme, and in a changing world, she's struggling to figure out what she should and shouldnt be sharing. Not many other pop stars could have done this bec frankly, we know exactly what they're doing/eating/wearing all day every day. But we don't with her and Jay. And in a celeb-obsessed, nosy assed climate of 'tell us everything,' it's noteworthy.

  • tamara | February 18, 2013 11:21 AMReply

    It was too much performance for me. Performance shots, that is. I liked the one-on-one and then "candid" scenes and felt there should have been more of THAT. Also, what a great way to have addressed the "scandals" associated with the high-points in her life during that time: the Billboard awards (backlash from supposed plaigarized performance); '4' and its reception (while critically acclaimed it was slow-going); RTW(Girls) um, not received well by fans, even the die-hard ones; her father (the drama with him); not being nominated for an Oscar...her Oscar goals...her acting goals; etc. There was a whole lot more she could have spoken about, but didn't...but should have. There's still a lot of walls up. She's "on" even when she's "off", if that makes any sense. With that said, I did enjoy her speaking of her grandmother and mother and family (wish there could have been more of that). More scenes like the ending one with her family in their flat would have been nice and really "candid"... Overall it was nice to see her (again for some, but for the first time for me).

  • Robyn | February 18, 2013 11:00 AMReply

    It was good, she shared parts of her life that she normally does not share. She talked about her miscarriage, her marriage, her work, fears, etc...I enjoyed it, but I'm a fan not a hater of Beyonce. I came away with more love and respect for her and her work.

  • Anti-believer | February 18, 2013 7:47 PM

    No, you idiot. Surrogate mother.

  • NOT AS CRAZY AS YOU! | February 18, 2013 7:25 PM

    @anti believer... wow so ur thinking they adopted Blue Ivy and had plastic surgery done on her little face to make the girl look just like her parents? A dastardly deed indeed!

  • Anti-believer | February 18, 2013 6:22 PM

    Miscarriage? She's lying. She just trying to make it appear she actually was pregnant. Footage of her bending over to sit in a chair in an interview proves she wasn't pregnant. A stomach does not fold.

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