Don’t Blink: Robert Frank

December 1, 2016

Review, Theatrical Leave a Comment

"...consistently interesting..."

Don’t Blink: Robert Frank

Mark Demetrius
Year: 2015
Rating: M
Director: Laura Israel

Robert Frank, June Leaf

Distributor: Madman
Released: December 1
Running Time: 82 minutes
Worth: $16.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…consistently interesting…

Robert Frank has been described by The New York Times, with some justification, as the world’s greatest living photographer. Unsurprisingly, the nonagenarian Frank refers to himself as visual rather than verbal, and is a reluctant (though pleasant and expansive enough) interviewee. But that doesn’t stop this (black-and-white) documentary from being consistently interesting, mainly because of the many tantalising glimpses that it affords of his remarkable body of work. That said, it might have benefited from more conventional exposition and chronology, and a little less onscreen collage.

The Swiss-born Frank is to this day most venerated for his influential fifties book, The Americans, consisting of naturalistic shots of “ordinary” citizens in thirty states. But there’s so much more to his oeuvre, much of it film rather than photos. There’s Cocksucker Blues, the riotous but seldom seen 1972 doco about The Rolling Stones, of which Mick Jagger says, “It’s a fucking good film, Robert, but if it’s shown in America, we’ll never be allowed in the country again; and Pull My Daisy, the absurdist romp with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. But some of the most strikingly beautiful and lyrical footage involves no-one famous at all: street scenes from Egypt and Beirut, for example, or Frank’s own family or latter-day rural life. He’s one of those uncommon characters who achieved great success without compromise, and for whom – as he puts it – “Life dances on, sometimes on crutches.” There is aural pleasure to be had here too, as the soundtrack features music by (among others) The Velvets, The Mekons, Tom Waits, and Johnny Thunders.


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