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
Local film historian Matthew Kennedy’s forthcoming book, Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, recounts in juicy, gory detail how bloated bombs like Doctor Dolittle, Paint Your Wagon, Star! and Finian’s Rainbow torpedoed the venerable genre as well as the Hollywood studio system. Just a few years later, however, the mainstreaming of pornography (thank you, Deep Throat) opened the door for a burst of low-budget musicals with a fresh come-on: Nudity and fornication. The wonderfully titled Honk If You’re Horny: Retro Sex Musicals unearths three titillating ‘70s artifacts for our listening and, ahem, viewing pleasure. Like many of the era’s sexploitation pictures, Bud Townsend’s Alice In Wonderland cast a Playboy Playmate of the Month (Kristine DeBell) in a hoot of a plot whose primary aim is providing situations and excuses for the “heroine” to strip and screw. Tonight’s voyeuristic peek through the looking glass is followed by The First Nudie Musical (Dec. 13), a nostalgic wet kiss to the pre-war heyday of screen tuners, and Let My Puppets Come (Dec. 20), which features the titular “characters” screwing. What, you thought it was the ripped-from-the-headlines saga of Elmo maestro Kevin Clash?
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Dec. 6. Continues through Dec. 20, 2012