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
Theres not much to this thin, sun-drenched concoction about a straight-arrow Paris lawyer (Fabrice Luchini) who descends on the titular Côte dAzur resort to defend an accused murderess (Chabrol muse Stéphane Audran), only to find himself distracted by the tawdry charms of the local TV weather girl (Louise Bourgoin), who happens to be the ex of his 24/7 bodyguard (Roschdy Zem). Writer-director Anne Fontaine (who will helm the forthcoming biopic Coco Before Chanel) keeps the tone hoveringoften uncertainly, sometimes intriguinglybetween film noir and farce, but the modest pleasure of the film issues chiefly from the performances. Theres a sly, subtle tension to the byplay between the somewhat effete Luchini and the authoritatively masculine Zem (who isnt exactly jealous of his clients burgeoning romance, but doesnt approve of it either), while Bourgoin -- a former Canal+ weather girl making her screen debut -- proves a force of nature unto herself. Bursting on to the screen and nearly out of her gaudy, cleavage-hugging couture, slurring her lines in what can best be described as a French equivalent of Valspeak, she moves through the film in a blissfully ditzy haze, leaving every man on-screen -- and many in the audience -- helpless in her wake.
July 3-9, 2009