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
Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (between
Folsom and Howard), S.F.
Through Aug. 3
Tickets are $12-15
During intermission on the first night of this new play a few audience members on the sidewalk broke out in a not-so-tuneful version of the old ballad -- "She wheeled her wheelbarrow! Through streets broad and narrow!" -- about the legendary Irish fishmonger Molly Malone. It was a high point of the show. Aoise Stratford's script gives us Molly as an ageless bag lady pushing a shopping cart through the streets of modern Chicago, watching a homeless girl named Lois who reminds her of herself and remembering scenes from her own gritty, harrowing life in the 1650s. The concept is ambitious, but it has no spontaneity (unlike the song on the sidewalk) and no suspense: The actors drift from scene to scene. Michael Symonds does compelling work as an English street merchant and the Irish husband of Molly, who dies fighting Cromwell's invasion of Dublin. Arwen Anderson is also funny as the younger Molly (spirited and gutter-poor, hating the English), and Treacy Corrigan gives a handful of urgently felt performances in smaller, scrappier roles. But the play overall feels alive only when it concentrates on Molly's history. The Chicago scenes are clichéd, and Stratford's connect-the-dots game is less interesting than the plain story of the widow Malone.