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
Nothing if not consistent, Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre director Jared Hess once again presents adolescence as a depressive, outsider experience; makes light of the working class for being, well, poor; and nearly bests the Brothers Coen when it comes to drawing all of his characters from the shallow end of the gene pool. There are moments in Hess's third self-conscious cult film, Gentlemen Broncos, that exude a fetishistic, low-fi splendor, as Hess envisions the Buck Rogers-meets-Barbarella fantasy world of an introverted Utah teenager (Michael Angarano) writing a pulp science-fiction opus. But both Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years and the life of its author are subject to so much projectile vomit, animal flatulence, and innumerable plays on the word "anus" that even first-graders may find their tolerance tested. "You took my nads!" and "Eat the corn out of my crap" vie for their place in the catch-phrase canon, and an animatronic deer fires missiles out of its ass, though it's Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement who handily steals the show as a bestselling fanboy scribe sky-high on his own pomposity. Hess deserves credit, I suppose, for so effectively channeling his inner seven-year-old. Personally, I preferred spending two hours in the company of Spike Jonze's.
Tue., Jan. 19, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Wed., Jan. 20, 2, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2010