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
At the risk of bringing hellfire on ourselves by not acknowledging the Bloody Mary at a different Mission punk bar (starts with Z, kicks you out a lot), we must recognize excellence when the situation demands it.
For thousands of people around the country, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the eggnog-induced rerun of It's a Wonderful Life. But those of us wishing to put a little space between ourselves and Frank Capra's feel-good tale of Christian salvation need look no further than Fred Raker's Hanukkah-slanted solo show. Set in Hollywood, revolving around a Jewish family, and featuring 25 characters (including Woody Allen, Jackie Mason, and Jack Benny in the guise of a guardian angel), It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life gives its perky predecessor a pre-yuletide kick in the tuchus. The production follows the misguided journey of aspiring Jewish comedian Phil Resnick from California to Syracuse, N.Y., as he struggles to come to terms with other peoples' success and his own failures. A meditation -- like the 1946 film version -- on the benefits of hindsight, It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life demonstrates that there are few things more Jewish (or more festive) than the past conditional tense. (If you'd rather see a more straightforward stage adaptation of the movie, try Actors Theatre's "live radio play" version.)
Dec. 8-24, 8 p.m.