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
Although the Alcatraz website claims that the flora and fauna of Alcatraz Island are the allure of the historic land mass jutting out of San Francisco Bay, there's a feeling they don't allude to for fear of losing customers: isolation.
You, the Living flips through 50-some single-panel vignettes, many very funny, arranged by Roy Andersson, a Swedish director best known for his commercial work and 2000s Songs From the Second Floor. An (almost always) stationary camera captures a procession of lugubrious Stockholmians; the caption to most of the stills could be I cant go on. Connections between scenes are loose, if any. A heaplike fiftyish biker gal replays teen-angst classics (Nobody understands me!) for her boyfriend in a public park. A man hunched over a walker obliviously drags his pet terrier behind him, tangled in its leash. A prematurely embalmed-looking fellow complains about his pension plans while his stout Brünnhilde of a wife mounts him. Andersson delights particularly in left-outs: the guy who cant squeeze into the busstop during a downpour; the natty little suitor getting his bouquet smashed in a slamming door. The sum total is the reflection of a worldviewsad sack, bordering on Everybody Hurts black-velvet sad-clown bathosrather than any narrative. The title comes from Goethes Roman Elegies, an admonition to appreciate ones measure of life before Lethes ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot. This I take to be one of Anderssons dry jokes, as his anhedonic characters already seem settled in Hadesa streetcar even lists Lethe as its destination.
Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2009