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
Several years back, American soil sprouted hundreds of indie groups reviving the angular, disco-punk sound of the early '80s. During their 15 seconds of fame, groups like the Rapture and the Gossip regurgitated a handful of 20-year-old dance grooves for coke-addled indie kids while in the process adding very little aesthetic innovation to the post-punk canon. Then, just like that, they all disappeared, surrendering the hipster flag to Devendra Banhart and "freak folk." However, several groups in the Bay Area remain defiant, including the trio Numbers, which just released a new disc titled We're Animals. Unfortunately, defiance isn't always the prudent move, because this is a rote collection of new wave dance-pop. The grooves are listless. The stale Gang of Four-like riffage feels as if it's played by a guitarist cruising on autopilot. And the twee, robotic vocals of drummer Indra Dunis are painfully thin and flat. "Solid Pleasure" is the sole standout track, and that's because I never thought any indie group would ever dare create a retro style based upon an innocuous fusion of early-'90s indie-pop: Stereolab, Tsunami, Slowdive, etc. I guess that must be the next big thing.