1. She Had A Miscarriage
It happened two years ago, and wrote a song about it. We hear just a verse of it. It’s very powerful, and feels different from what she’s done before, even when trying to be more personal. Like many songs she recorded for 4, it did not make the final cut.
2. Her Father Motivated Her To Succeed By Withholding Approval
“My dad knew that I needed his approval,” says Beyoncé. “And I think my father wouldn’t give it to me, because he kept pushing me, and kept pushing me, and kept pushing me.”
3. She Loves Computers But Hates The Internet
Like almost all famous people, she dislikes the Internet, but unlike many famous people, she really likes computers. Though Beyoncé gives us the traditional line about the evils of the web – gossip is bad, why don’t we just talk about the music, etc. – she also says “Thank god for my computer.” We see her with it a lot: sitting in the backseat of her SUV singing along to a demo playing on her laptop, reading lyrics from a Word document; using it to film herself in an elevator; recording video diaries; and trying out looks. For many people, computers are primarily a way to access the Internet at this point, but for Beyoncé, her Macbook Pro is a creative tool, useful for everything from creating music, writing lyrics, and figuring herself out.
4. She Obsesses On Her Image
She spends a lot of time looking at herself. This is not surprising for someone who is directing a documentary about herself and being filmed at all times, but it nevertheless feels different from celebrity documentaries of the past. There we see famous people spending a lot of time listening to other people talk about them. Here, we see a famous person spending a lot of time looking at herself and looking at other people looking at her, and trying to see herself from the outside.
5. She Trims Her Own Hair
This is in contrast to our prior assumption, which is that any regrettably necessary bits of hair maintenance were done by singing bluebirds and shy mice.
6. She Gets In The Mood By Listening To Her Own Music
At one point she says that she will listen to “1 + 1” before “making love to my husband,” which is some serious the-wind-blowing-over-Prince’s-sheet-music-before-he-has-sex-in-a-giant-white-bed business.
7. Jay-Z Likes To Sing To Her
He croons a bit of his song “Young Forever” to her while they’re out on a boat, and a bit of Coldplay’s ballad “Yellow” while they’re out at a bar.
8. She Appreciates Feist Deep Cuts
“Gatekeeper” is audible in a scene where she and Jay are out on what one assumes is a lovely, lovely boat.
9. She Wants To Be Taken Seriously As An Artist
She says she wants to be an album artist, and wishes we would concentrate on her music more. This sets up some interesting questions that are never really answered, like what does it mean that she’s using the computer not only to make music but to look at herself so much, to try out hairstyles and dance moves and expressions? Does she really not regard her appearance and her style as an integral part of her art? Is she concentrating on her appearance solely as a defensive move - “I need to look perfect otherwise you won’t really listen to my music”? (She talks for some time about “Run the World (Girls)” and the need for women to work harder than men to achieve equal success.) Or does she, in fact, care deeply about her visual and stylistic self-presentation as a core part of her artistic work, and just suspects that if she says this we won’t take her as seriously?
10. She Wants Us To See The Boring Parts Of Her Life
Life Is But A Dream feels different from the landmarks music docs: it’s not about the craziness of being famous, or the hedonism of the road, or a self-justifying document of a fading celebrity’s delusions. If anything, it feels like Radiohead’s angrily numb Meeting People Is Easy, but only if all the bits in that film about the emptiness of pop culture and the tedious aspects of being a big star were cast in a celebratory light.