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
An unusually blunt melodrama by David Gordon Green, melodious poet of such sentimental delicacies as George Washington and All the Real Girls, Snow Angels introduces a pair of gunshots and then follows with a flashback narrative to account for them, cross-cutting between the emotional bludgeoning of two unhappy couples. Louise (Jeannetta Arnette) is splitting with Don (Griffin Dunne), a self-absorbed philanderer and science teacher at their sons school. Across town and miles further down the path of estrangement, Annie (Kate Beckinsale) has a restraining order against her alcoholic, suicidal, Jesus-freak ex-husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell). Caught in the middle are the two couples children, including Louises son Arthur (Michael Angarano), who falls for quirky art chick Lila (Olivia Thirlby). As always, Greens sympathies lie with his melancholy youngsters and, happily, his own heart is full of subtle instruments. What saves this heavy material from sinking into the familiar turf of the Small-Town Midwinter Tragedy is his ear for verbal idiosyncrasy and off-kilter conversation rhythms. The film feels transitional for Greenone foot in the interiorized indieverse of his previous work, the other taking a big step toward more conventional projects. In shaking off his influences and affections, will he shed imagination and intuition as well? Snow Angels answers noeven as it poses questions about life and love that are hardly worth asking.
March 21-28, 2008