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
Set in the bucolic suburbs of early-19th-century London, as fresh and dewy as a newly mowed lawn, Jane Campions Bright Star recounts the love affair between a tubercular young poet and the fashionable teenager next door. Fanny Brawne (Australian actress Abbie Cornish) is a self-assured, imperious girl who makes her entrance in a dress of her own design, accessorized with a bright red, yellow-plumed stovepipe hat. Lippy as well as eye-catching, she immediately gets sassy with the self-important scribbler, John Keats (Ben Whishaw), who rents the house across the way. As played by Whishaw, Keats is clearly a protorock stardriven, yet lovable, and always attuned to himself. Mr. Keats and Miss Brawne make a fabulous couple: Its a pleasure to watch and, for the most part, listen to them. Her emphatically smooth brow and his artfully tousled hair seem designed to counterpoint the turbulence beneath their restraint. Keats argued against an art founded on certainty. However, Bright Star has little interest in mysteryor even ambivalence. England 1818 seems like a Fragonard garden, the pastoral height of civilization. Conversation is witty; summer seems eternal. Bright Star creates its own hermetic world. The requisite end titles suggest that Fanny consecrated her life to Keatss memory; in fact, she married and had three children who eventually became rich on the sale of the letters she sensibly saved. Shadowed by the knowledge of loves evanescence, this is a movie of undeniable pathos. But that does not make it sublime.
Sun., Dec. 13, 2, 4:20, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 14, 7 & 9:30 p.m., 2009