“Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” is an amiable, if shambling, look at the life and career of the influential photographer and experimental filmmaker who is now in his 90s.

Frank’s most famous work remains the book “The Americans,” which came out in 1958. It was the result of the artist crisscrossing America and taking remarkable photos, mostly of seemingly unremarkable things.

The book was far from a hit when it first came out, but Frank’s association with Beat literary figures such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg helped gain him a certain notice. Eventually “The Americans” — in which Frank tried successfully to capture the tone of old newsreels — was hailed as a masterpiece.

Then came film, although Frank’s work has never been anything close to mainstream (his best known movie, about the early ’70s Rolling Stones, has never been widely seen). “Don’t Blink” follows the progression of Frank’s life — marriage, kids, divorce, his long partnership with the artist June Leaf, personal tragedies — interspersed with the many, many people he’s known and lots of footage from his films.

It also contains footage of a combative young Frank being interviewed alongside what now appears to be a genial old man, the lion in winter, who still can’t keep his fingers from shooting everything around him. For years Frank has traveled from an extremely urban, gritty New York City life to his remote house in Nova Scotia, a practice that seems to have kept the spark alive.

“Don’t Blink” is a portrait of an artist, a portrait that draws upon Frank’s own improvisational approach to filmmaking, but which also manages to capture a life’s story, as well as its subject’s essence.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic

‘Don’t Blink —

Robert Frank’


Not rated

Running time: 82 minutes

At the Detroit Film Theatre

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