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
When a band like Death Cab for Cutie manages to approach gold record sales with help only from the tiny Seattle-based label Barsuk and, via Fox' s The O.C. , becomes an oft-mentioned name in a television world where the most charming protagonist is a classic nerd who still manages to get all the girls, you have to wonder when geek chic became so mainstream. Nevertheless, as the quartet's new major-label home is banking on, wearers of Old Navy, the Gap, and Banana Republic can finally agree that DCFC singer Ben Gibbard now personifies the archetype of what girls want and what boys wish they were: the sensitive indie rocker. As expected, Plans, the group's fifth record, is Death Cab's most polished work to date, but one suspects that has to do less with a bump in label budget and more with guitarist/producer Chris Walla simply getting better at his craft, a fact that makes you question why the foursome would want to cross to the other side of the Atlantic in the first place. Regardless, here songwriter Gibbard and his cohorts siphon all the finest moments from DCFC's previous four full-lengths, assembling them into a record devoid of filler and stuffed with gooey, nostalgic lyrics, lilting piano, and stadium-worthy rhythms. On songs like "Different Names for the Same Thing" and "Marching Bands of Manhattan," the band patiently lets the arrangements build to intensity levels worthy of Joshua Tree emotion. Elsewhere, on "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," Gibbard assumes the role of dorm-room troubadour, pining sweetly above nothing more than an acoustic guitar. By the time Plans ends, you're left with the idea that perhaps Death Cab's move to the majors finally means the masses are ready for what indie rock fans have been enjoying all along. We needn't worry, though, worse apples have certainly sought world domination.