If your idea of a good time at the movies requires a three-act narrative consisting of the hook, the conflict, and the climax, followed by a quick resolution, then Amateurs of the Impossible is not for you. Filmmakers Margaret Rorison and Zach Iannnazzi are like painters — or, as Orson Welles suggested, poets with camera lenses for eyes. They reach beyond the presentational to build film-loop elegies, plein air panoplies, and celluloid sonatas that whip up dreams, memories, emotions, and musings. Rorison, co-founder of Baltimore's much-loved roaming experimental film series Sight Unseen, contributes six shorts, including a handmade study of Danish wind power, a collaboration with the Effervescent Dance Collective, a landscape portrait of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, and a 16-mm tribute to her grandfather that is saturated by field recordings of oil rigs and fishing lines on the Louisiana bayou. Iannazzi offers three shorts, including a found-footage scrapbook of fading Northern California and a superimposed diptych of home movies that explores "mid-century male bonding and the hubris of hunting culture."
"Amateurs of the Impossible" begins at 7:30 p.m. at Artists Television Access, 992 Valencia St., S.F. $10; 415-824-3890 or sfcinematheque.org. More
Scientists used to consider it balderdash, but the belief that humans can cause earthquakes has recently been validated by a significant increase in tremors occurring in the Central United States. Nearly twice as many quakes, magnitude 3 and up, have happened there in the last six years than in the previous 36 years; in 2014, more strong earthquakes jolted Oklahoma than California. Justin Rubinstein, a U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist, believes oil and gas extraction is responsible for this. Hydraulic fracturing is part of the problem, but Rubinstein says the top culprit is the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations into permanent storage areas underground. He believes that human activity of this sort could trigger a magnitude 7 shaker. All agree that San Francisco's expected Big One will be an act of nature, not industry, but anyone earthquake-curious should find Rubinstein's talk ("Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes") of interest. The event is part of a USGS series of free lectures for non-experts.
Justin Rubinstein’s lecture, “Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes,” is set for 7 p.m. at USGS, Building 3, Rambo Auditorium, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park. Free; online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar.More
1499 Valencia St., 415-416-6136
While many restaurants seemingly do their part to hasten your death with inappropriately gargantuan portions of meat and hardly any vegetables, the new AL’s Place in the Mission offers a simple concept that might just extend your life expectancy.
A Christmas Carol has been a yearly tradition at ACT for over a quarter-century, and the cast is always so huge I'm inclined to rename it The ACT Young Conservatory Full-Employment Project, but that title sucks for a number of reasons. What the show amounts to, aside from a crowd-pleasing bit of holiday cheer, is a training ground for actors. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas Eve haunting by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future is so familiar to the families who see it that there seems to be no need for suspense. Craig Slaight's directing wanders from one splendid but useless dance number to another, with patches of milky acting in between. Steven Anthony-Jones, I imagine, makes a powerful Scrooge, but on the night I went Rhonnie Washington stood in. He did well enough, but the large comic presence was lacking -- and A Christmas Carol would be limp without its large comic presences. Brian Keith Russell's big and blustery Fezziwig is one pillar of the show; Robert Ernst's terrifying performance as Marley's Ghost, dragging his chains from a doorway pouring with mist, might be another if Ernst played it every night. (He was standing in for Washington.) After 26 years, A Christmas Carol is a huge, clanking contraption, like an old calliope at a county fair -- amusing for a while but showing its age.