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
20 Yerba Buena Lane, 415-744-5000
San Francisco is the gateway to California wine country and for those who can’t seem to find a designated driver to schlep them up for a round of tastings, the luxurious Press Club converts a day trip to Napa or Sonoma into an evening of liquid bliss.
The most salient status symbols in the London of My Fair Lady aren’t walking sticks and pocket watches but diphthongs and fricative H’s. In the Lerner and Loewe musical, norms of speech are so codified by class that phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Johnny Moreno) can guess a Londoner’s origins down to the very street only by eavesdropping on a few vowel sounds. Flower peddler Eliza Doolittle (Monique Hafen) is easy to peg, with Cockney that makes an “oh” into an “aaaaaaah-ow-ooh.” But is she as easy to teach? Higgins bets with his colleague Colonel Pickering (Richard Frederick) that, with six months of elocution lessons, he can transform the “draggletailed guttersnipe” into a duchess. The musical, which is based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, seethes with the vitriolic social critic’s rage, but it also features two of the sweetest love songs ever written -- “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “On the Street Where You Live” -- as well as one of the most understated: “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Bill English’s spirited ensemble makes songs immortalized by the 1964 film emphatically their own. Hafen, in particular, shows Eliza as self-possessed yet misunderstood by her world. When she sings “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely,” she’s wishing for much more than just “lots of chocolate for me to eat,” or, as she says it, “aite.”
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: July 31. Continues through Sept. 15, 2012