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
American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel is not a happy fellow these days, not that anyone's ever thought of his work as "party music." The S.F. band's first album since 1994's San Francisco finds AMC forgoing its melodic, plaintively brooding, country-tinged rock for an approach that's spare, harsher, and even more disconsolate. Eitzel's smooth, emotive croon has never sounded better, but those glistening guitars are gone, replaced by muted (sometimes plodding) piano and atmospheric electronics and percussion. Lyrically, Eitzel's targets are this nation's rube mentality ("America Loves the Minstrel Show"), pseudo-affection for sale (the male stripper of "Patriot's Heart"), and, of course, romantic estrangement ("I swear you want to say goodbye even more than you want to breathe," goes one optimistic line). The loping, cheerily sarcastic "The Horseshoe Wreath in Bloom" comes closest to the old AMC, while the most startling track is "Job to Do," which features eerily martial, upfront drumming and intensely dissonant, feedback-laden guitar noise. Patriots is pretty compelling, but you might want to play Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen albums afterward to perk you up.