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
At the same moment that directors like Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong were earning festival kudos and critical acclaim for the early films of the Australian new wave, the more industrious/shameless likes of director Tim Burstall (Tim liked getting tit in the shot) and producer Antony I. Ginnane (the Roger Corman of Australia) were churning out low-budget quickies equally ripe for world exportalbeit to the grindhouses instead of the art houses. Mark Hartleys boisterous film-buff documentary Not Quite Hollywood pays loving homage to the latter camp, who played an equally important role in the 1970s revival of a moribund Aussie film industry, even as their movies popularized the notion of the outback as a haven for loose women, slobbering boozers, and homicidal biker gangs. Mostly alive and well and happy to share their war stories before Hartleys camera, these Ozploitation mavens run the gamut from larger-than-life, carnival-barker hucksters (like The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style impresario John D. Lamond, interviewed in front of a pole-hugging go-go dancer) to ingenious genre purveyors (like George Mad Max Miller and the late Richard Franklin, whose Hitchcock-inspired Patrick and Roadgames beg rediscovery). But the talking heads here are routinely upstaged by the exploding onesplus lots of jiggling jugs and airborne motorbikesprovided by Hartleys exuberant film-clip montages. The rise of video and the death of the drive-ins would eventually bring the curtain down on the Aussie schlock industry, but for two glorious hours, Not Quite Hollywood returns us to a time when the price of admission was cheap and the thrills even cheaper.
Aug. 14-20, 2009