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
For a band that obsesses so much about the inexorable march of technology, Modesto's Grandaddy sure has managed to arrest any evolution of its aesthetic since perfecting the formula on 2000's The Sophtware Slump. That album offered gently fuzzy guitars, puckish synths, verse-chorus-verse structures, and Jason Lytle's warm vocals oiling the cosmic jalopy like so much KY Jelly. Redelivered on Sumday, and now laid to rest on Just Like the Fambly Cat (the band announced its dissolution in January), it's a sound that's all Grandaddy's own, yet one the band never really improved upon. And so on Fambly Cat we get another helping: a loping, reverberated "Where I'm Anymore"; the soaring, psychedelic "The Animal World"; the vaporously aching "This Is Where It Always Starts" y'up, this is still Grandaddy. "I don't wanna be a part of all the quality that falls apart these days," bleats Lytle on "Elevate Myself," making his planned relocation to Montana seem more sad than triumphant. Since Slump's masterstroke, technology has metastasized most depressingly. Grandaddy's will to point out the floating plastic bags that flit amid the frenzy could use something of a stylistic update, but it's too bad it has to disappear entirely.