Lady Gaga Five Foot Two: A Look at the New Lady Gaga Documentary

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Lady Gaga Five Foot Two: James Mandell’s take on the new Netflix Lady Gaga documentary

Lady Gaga DocumentaryBorn this Way, Bad Romance… I know these tunes by cultural osmosis more than having listened to them in rotation. As a Baby Boomer, I’ve moved from pop to denser electronic and experimental genres, but I listen to all manner of playlists and I wonder if given the limited involvement and exposure I’ve had to this newest Lady Gaga incarnation, I may have a different reaction to her new doc, now streaming on Netflix.

I remember watching her initial TV appearances on the talk shows and SNL and remarking about the genuine talent and technique she brought to her game. And those nutsy vids, so superfluous but so entertaining. And now, what, a decade later, here’s the woman unmasked, as it were, committing to making both an album and a video recording of her life as honestly – nakedly – as she can.

She did it by allowing a trusted director, Chris Moukarbel, to point the camera and essentially be a one-man tag-along buddy. And it appears he was allowed to follow her virtually everywhere but the loo. What we get, as a result, is an unvarnished behind-the-scenes treatment that deconstructs her glitzy concert dates and feature videos, as she relates to a coterie of about a dozen close-in entourage people, who assist, sew, remind, make-up, style, drive, bodyguard and give family comfort.

And what we net from this Lady Gaga documentary is the portrait of a woman in her prime, dealing with an avalanche of challenges – from joy to managing physical pain, from stadium jitters to lonely depression, from intensely creative flourishes to exhaustion. It’s constant, it’s overwhelming, it’s real.

I think some of her mega-fans may find exception to the film. What’s she got to complain about, who does she think she is, stop whining. But my perspective sees a star who has expertly channeled her seemingly unlimited energy and who is acutely aware of her status and resolve to be fair and even-handed with staff and fans alike, when so many others of her ilk are dismissive, rude or have simply morphed into egotistical nightmares.

Gaga is none of these things. She shares the traits of a sober Amy Winehouse crossed with a strutting Beyonce, a true original, creatively on fire on the inside while striving to maintain a practiced sense of calm and survival on the out. It’s a bitch being a superstar. But this superstar’s no bitch. She’s simply unafraid.

James Mandell’s take on the new Netflix Lady Gaga documentary

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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