Men & Animals Tour: Films and Videos by Jim Finn and Dean Rank
Fred Camper, Chicago Reader [March 27, 2003]

Eschewing the facile irony in vogue among their peers, these two young Chicagoans use fragmentary and disparate pairings of image and sound to create thought-provoking commentaries on displacement and alienation in our culture. The strongest of these seven videos is Finn's chilling Super-Max (2003), a tour of maximum security prisons shot from a moving car, their hulking forms framed by telephone poles and power lines that divide landscape and sky. The concluding voice-over, making reference to Lewis and Clark, implicitly equates the European occupation of this continent with imprisonment. Rank's best contribution, Team (2003), turns football into a macho theater of the absurd: in one scene a coach derogates certain uniform numbers as "femme."
Wendy Gilmartin, LA Weekly [April 25, 2003]

The national tour of work by filmmaking partners Jim Finn and Dean Rank highlights their mutual talent for informative and punchy short films. Finnís documentaries are mostly low-budget exposÈs that peel away layered hierarchies in the media and day-to-day reality. He connects only slightly related images and sounds, seeking truth through a shuffled fabrication of cultural identifiers (as in his re-created karaoke videos ó featuring himself dancing and swans by a lake ó set to Soviet anthems and a screeching torch song). In Decision 80, appropriated network-TV footage of Jimmy Carterís ìI see riskî speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention meets Reaganís gloomy inaugural ride through D.C., onto which Finn slaps thunderclaps and warning buzzers. His newest, super-max, features panning shots of 10 super-maximum security prisons framed by vast, vacant landscapes and telephone poles, accompanied by storybook narration (from a Dune series book on tape) that describes a fantastical evil empire. But where Finn comments on our connectedness with the built, human environment, Rank deals with the rifts among ego, gut reactions and inner conundrums. His 1998 student film Diagram ó and the series Portraits, which features Rank as different characters, are worth seeing, but theyíre compositionally subordinate to his newest, Team, a profile of a sports team as caste system and male threshold onto adult life. Teamís slow-paced vignettes construct an anatomy of gestures, facial expressions and textures that are neither story nor montage, but a document of those ephemeral moments when maturity is in flux.
Roll Tape
Cheryl Eddy, San Francisco Bay Guardian [April 23, 2003]

You gotta admire the dedication of Chicago artists Jim Finn and Dean Rank, who are currently roaming at a rock star clip across the country ("25 venues in 23 cities") on their Men and Animals Film Tour 2003. Catch the duo during one of their Bay Area stops, and you'll witness a program that included Finn's "Super-Max" (2003), which uses footage of maximum-security prisons to unearth "the key to the political power of the known universe," as well as his entry at the 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival, the gerbil-themed "w¸stenspringmaus" (2002). Rank's contributions include the 20-minute, football-macho-centric "Team" (2003), as well as the self-starring, deadpan "Portrait" (2000).
Furry Friends
Hiya Swanhuyser, SF Weekly [April 30, 2003]

Jim Finn and Dean Rank are young Chicago filmmakers whose work using multiple forms of moving picture stock is taking them on a grueling tour: 25 venues in 23 cities over the course of this spring. The Men and Animals Tour is a smorgasborg of indie hash from two longtime pals, comprising 11 pieces of commentary on alienation and displacement. Finn is apparently overfond of gerbils--in his movies, that is; he even chronicles their history, as in w¸stenspringmaus. Rank's Team is an exploration of absurdity in the world of football, a vastly underappreciated subject.
The Men and Animals Tour: The Short Films of Jim Finn and Dean Rank
Brian Libby, Willamette Week [April 30, 2003]

Chicagoan Jim Finn's short films have screened everywhere from the prestigious Rotterdam and New York Underground Film Festivals to PBS. Combining contrasting images and audio, his work provides thoughtful commentary on the inherent alienation of American culture. Among Finn's most noteworthy films is Super-Max, completed just this year, which provides a glimpse of maximum-security prisons. Finn's touring partner, Dean Rank, found the inspiration for one of his films in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In Team, Rank exploits the absurdity of football's controlled chaos and ¸ber-machismo. The evening is presented by the longtime experimental film series Peripheral Produce, for which small events like these have become more scarce and therefore all the more welcome.
Men & Animals Tour 2003
Ray Pride, New City [March 26, 2003]

A variety of deadpan experimental shorts by the two filmmakers and friends; there's a preponderance of ideas about alienation, representation and small animals. In Finn's "W¸stenspringmaus," we get a cluttered history of the gerbil, with a busy sound and music track; in other work, Finn works with similar means: found sound, 16mm footage that could have been found, typefaces and more gerbil cameos. Rank's selections include a poker-faced series of no-fi black-and-white video one-takes starring himself, with buzzing sound, under the rubric: "Portrait," as in "Portrait: Woodworker," "Portrait: Stud" and "Portrait: Kitchen Popper."
A Question of Time
Nick Rutigliano, The Village Voice [March 5, 2003]

Generally lighter, the shorts on display delight in summing up and tearing down, from the who's-hot-who's-not L Train-traveling Yes to the hilarious tradition-deflation -- of educational and skin flicks, respectively -- in W¸stenspringmaus and Pornographic Apathetic.