Category Archives: Blog

Hydropower Saves The Fugitive

The fugitive movie poster

I had the chance to re-watch an early 1990s blockbuster, The Fugitive (1993), starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. Ford plays a doctor wrongfully accused of murdering his wife.  He is unexpectedly freed from the transport bus taking him … Read More

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Hoovervilles and Poverty in Seabiscuit

seabiscuit movie powers

In terms of energy themes, Seabiscuit (2003) focuses on cars displacing horses in the transportation sector.  However, poverty and the capability for self-renewal show up as recurring themes, too. One scene, just 15 minutes in, features the archetypal image of … Read More

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Stupid Energy Elements in Idiocracy

idiocracy poster

I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally watch the movie Idiocracy (2006), but I can see now why it was an instant classic.  This movie is rich with energy material, so I can’t tackle all of … Read More

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Holes Is A Water (and Energy) Movie

holes poster

I happened to watch Holes (2003) with my family, and I remember how popular the film was when released. Among other notable elements, this movie was the screen debut for Shia LaBeouf. The movie’s entire plot revolves around water. In … Read More

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Goldeneye’s Energy Weapons

goldeneye poster

Returning to an earlier theme of energy in James Bond movies, I was surprised to see a few elements in Goldeneye (1995). That movie was notable for a few reasons: it was the first Bond film made after the disintegration … Read More

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Time Bandits, Evil, and Nuclear Mastery

time bandits poster

For some reason sometimes I get into a streak of 1980s movies. I watched Back to the Future (1985) , The Goonies(1985), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1985), and Time Bandits (1981) all in pretty quick succession. Time Bandits is … Read More

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The Formula and Fischer-Tropsch

the formula dvd cover

The mysterious and secret formula under investigation in The Formula (1980) is the not-so-secret Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) formula, which had been known over half a century when the movie was made.  The F-T process converts different solid or gaseous feedstocks, such … Read More

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Rocky Meets Patton Meets The Godfather

Rocky poster

I have one more comment about The Formula (1980). Its director John Avildsen also directed Rocky and Karate Kid.  All three movies center around an underdog upstart who takes on the establishment.  In Rocky, Sylvester Stallone’s Italian Stallion takes on … Read More

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Smoke, Mirrors, and Real Lasers, Oh My!

Star Trek movie poster

Hollywood has a tendency to turn to smoke and mirrors when creating special effects.  Stop-motion, miniatures, and painted plates wowed audiences in fantasy and sci-fi beginning at the turn of the last century.  Through the 1950s and 1960s the audience … Read More

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Hydropower for Medieval Torture in The Princess Bride

THE PRINCESS BRIDE
1987, 20th Century Fox

In my opinion, The Princess Bride (1987) is one of the funniest movies of all time.  And, it’s an energy movie!  In a classic scene, Westley the Farm Boy is tortured in the Pit of Despair, which looks like a … Read More

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German Scientist as Villain and Comedic Foil

naked gun poster

Around the third minute of The Formula (1980), there is a roundtable introduction of German leaders and scientists during WWII.  The scene reminded me of a similar scene in the comedy Naked Gun 2 ½ (1991) introducing the titans of … Read More

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Temporal Confusion in the Captain America: The First Avenger

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
2011, Paramount

This post takes a different turn from others on this blog. I want to explore something Dr. Webber mentioned during his SXSWedu panel last month.  When looking at movies as historical documents, it’s important to keep in mind that their … Read More

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A Divergent View of Our Energy Future

DIVERGENT
2014, Summit Entertainment

I went with my 14-year old daughter to see Divergent (2014). It turns out she wasn’t the only teenage girl there watching the movie, which attracts a similar demographic as Hunger Games (2012), which the blog earlier noted is a … Read More

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Llewyn Davis Predicts the Future of Cars

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
2013, CBS Films

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is a critically acclaimed movie about the lives of fictional folksingers set in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Interestingly enough, there is a fascinating history about how the electrification of guitars changed the global music … Read More

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Binging on Energy: House of Cards, Season 2

House of Cards

Although this is a movie-oriented blog, I can’t help but feature some online television, since it’s relevant to energy and media today. The highly anticipated second season of House of Cards returned to Netflix on February 14, 2014, with no … Read More

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Russell Hustles Energy in American Hustle

American Hustle

I was kicking myself for missing American Hustle (2013) when it was in theatres, so I rushed to buy my own copy the day of its release.  I’m still kicking myself but I finally watched it (twice), and through ten … Read More

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Hitchcock’s Notorious Take on Atomic Energy

Notorious poster

Those who aren’t film students might not know the definition of “MacGuffin”.  In the cinematic world, a “MacGuffin” is the particular narrative element that drives a narrative. It is pertains very little to the story, but without it there would … Read More

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Edison, Feynman, and the Mystery of Energy

edison the man movie poster

I’ve already covered some of the notable energy references in the biopic, Edison, The Man (1940) in my previous post linked here.  But I couldn’t help looping back to comment on one great line summing up how energy was seen … Read More

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The Formula for Making an Energy Movie

the formula dvd cover

The Formula (1980) with George C. Scott and Marlon Brando is one of the first major oil films released after the 1970s oil shocks.  Rather than presenting the very positive side of oil the way most pre-1970s films did, this … Read More

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A Heroic Portrayal of Thomas Edison

Edison, The Man
1940, MGM

I stumbled across the movie Edison, The Man (1940) with Spencer Tracy and had to watch it.  First, Thomas Edison is the quintessential inventor whose innovations—such as the cost-effective, long-lasting electric lightbulb and other electric appliances—changed the global energy landscape … Read More

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Webber Energy Group at the Movies

Transformers 4 poster

Today’s release of the first full-length Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) trailer brought great excitement to the Webber Energy Group.  A set prop built by group member Charlie Upshaw and Josh Rhodes is featured  in the trailer and the film (albeit temporarily … Read More

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The Rig: A Disaster

the rig poster

The Rig (2010) is a cringe-worthy, low-budget thriller about a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico with the IMDB tagline: “In the midst of a tropical storm, the crew of an offshore oil rig must survive the rampage of a … Read More

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Dallas Returns and Energy Abounds

Dallas poster

SPOILER ALERT: This blog post contains many plot elements from the first episode of the third season and the season finale of the second season of Dallas on TNT. I know this is a blog about “Energy at the Movies,” but I … Read More

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The Goonies has Excellent Shelf Life

goonies poster

I watched The Goonies (1985) with my sons. What’s not to love about a classic kids’ movie from the mid-1980s that was written and directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and Josh Brolin? Energy shows up … Read More

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Oil Man 3: Using Technology To Solve our Addiction

ironman 3

I watched Iron Man 3 (2013) with my son, and we both enjoyed it.  While the original Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012) were nuclear movies (see the earlier post here), Iron Man 3 surprised me by including oil as … Read More

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Oscars Around the Corner – August: Osage County

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
2013, The Weinstein Company

I saw the movie August: Osage County (2014), which was nominated for two Academy Awards (Meryl Streep for Best Actress and Julia Roberts for Best Supporting Actress). I wouldn’t be surprised if both actresses win, as I found the performances … Read More

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Walter Mitty Shows the Secret of Icelandic Energy

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
2013, Twentieth Century Fox

I recently watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), which is a fun movie based on the 1939 short story with the same name by James Thurber and a remake of a 1947 movie starring Danny Kaye. While traipsing … Read More

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Mary Poppins and Air Pollution

MARY POPPINS
1964, Walt Disney

Another thought occurred to me about Saving Mr. Banks (2013), which as noted in my previous blog post is a movie about the creative conflict between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) during the production of the … Read More

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Frozen Climate Commentary

FROZEN
2013, Walt Disney Studios

Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Disney’s Frozen (2013) joins Mulan (1998), The Princess and the Frog (2009), Tangled (2010), and Brave (2012) in redefining the princess archetype through a twenty-first century feminist lens. Critical theory aside, … Read More

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Energy and Water Save Mr. Banks

SAVING MR. BANKS
2013, Walt Disney Studios

I watched Saving Mr. Banks (2013), the touching movie about the creative conflict between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), with my family over the holidays. A few energy and water references merit sharing. … Read More

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Tribute to Peter O’Toole

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
1962, Columbia Pictures

Lawrence of Arabia is one of the greatest films of all time. It captured the romance and mystery of Saudi Arabia on screen for a western audience and referenced water tensions, serving as a prelude for later films dealing with … Read More

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ARGO brings Hollywood and Coal Together

ARGO
2012, Warner Bros.

ARGO (2012) is nominally about geopolitical entanglement in the Middle East, including several references to oil.  However, it also makes an insightful observation about coal. In the 36th minute, Lester Siegel (a famous movie director played by Alan Arkin), makes … Read More

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ARGO Stands for “Another Really Gripping Oil” Movie

ARGO
2012, Warner Bros.

I finally watched ARGO (2012), which is a gripping film about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and the 2013 Best Picture Academy Award Winner. The movie—produced by George Clooney and Ben Affleck—addresses US entanglement in Iranian governance through an openly … Read More

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Despicable Me 2: Surprising Energy & Climate References

DESPICABLE ME 2
2013, Universal Pictures

I watched Despicable Me 2 (2013) with my kids recently, counting on a good laugh based on Steve Carell’s and Kristin Wiig’s involvement.  However, the movie went beyond that, surprising me with two energy (and climate) references on top of … Read More

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Wheelers Dealers: Real World Parallels

THE WHEELER DEALERS
1963, Filmways Pictures

Reading Marianne’s June post on The Wheeler Dealers (1963) brought two connections to mind. First, though the movie is a spoof-like comedy, the financial tactics and maneuvers (e.g. going to Wall Street to raise money for risky ventures) seem similar to those … Read More

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Man of Steel: A Super Energy Movie

MAN OF STEEL
2013, Warner Bros.

I didn’t expect Man of Steel (2013)–the latest in the decades-long Superman franchise–to be an energy movie. But it had several key energy components throughout the movie. Themes related to “Peak Oil” were mentioned twice. In the opening scene, Clark … Read More

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Monsters University: Prequel to an Energy Movie

Monsters University Poster 2013

I watched Monsters University (2013) with my kids. This movie, which is a prequel to the energy-themed Monsters, Inc. (2001), is an entertaining look at college life. Its story line is presented in the context of two main protagonists (voiced … Read More

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Monsters, Inc.: An Animated Movie About the Modern Energy Industry

MONSTERS, INC.
2001, Pixar Animation and Walt Disney

Inspired by Friday’s opening of Monsters University (2013) (the prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001)), here are some of the energy elements portrayed in the original movie, released over a decade ago. If you’ve watched the Energy at the Movies pilot … Read More

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Wheeler Dealers, Wildcatters, and the Texas Oilman Stereotype

THE WHEELER DEALERS
1963, Filmways Pictures

I recently watched The Wheeler Dealers (1963 and one of my dad’s favorites), starring James Garner and Lee Remick. The 1963 comedy follows Henry Tyroon (rhymes with “tycoon”), a Texas Wildcatter millionaire, who hits a streak of dry wells and … Read More

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Turbo: The Snail Racing Energy Movie

TURBO
2013, Twentieth Century Fox

My 7-year old son is thrilled with the trailers of Turbo (2013), set for release in July. It’s a racing movie about an underdog snail, nicknamed Turbo, who has unlikely dreams of being fast.  Though the trailers only reveal some … Read More

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The Eyes of Texas

UTwordmark2012Stack_CMYK-button-171

In an earlier post about Promised Land (2012), I noted that there was a University of Texas pennant on the wall in a way that is reminiscent of Written on the Wind (1956). Rock Hudson’s character in the latter presumably … Read More

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The Texas Oilman, Part 1

Giant Poster 1956, Source: IMDb

One of the recurring stereotypes in energy movies is that of the Texas Oilman. There are far too many Texas Oilman characters in movies and TV to list, but here’s a start: – Clark Gable, Boomtown (1940) – James Dean, … Read More

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Gattaca’s Solar Power and Plug-In Electric Vehicles Mark the Future

GATTACA Poster 1997

Gattaca (1997), starring Uma Thurman, Jude Law, and Ethan Hawke, is a futuristic film set in the ‘not so distant future’ where your genetic profile determines the opportunities available to you for the rest of your life.  Invalids (pronounced like … Read More

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Roger Ebert: A Tribute from Energy at the Movies

Roger Ebert
Image Courtesy RogerEbert.com

We wish to honor Roger Ebert, who died today after a recurrence of cancer, for his important impact on movies for the last 4+ decades. He was a movie fan, an important cultural critic who appreciated the societal value of … Read More

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Water and Poverty in the Movies

Louisiana-Story-Poster-1948

One more comment on Louisiana Story… as I’ve noted before, images of women either washing clothes by hand without piped water and/or carrying buckets of water appear to be the international symbols for poverty. The movie Louisiana Story (1948), which captures some … Read More

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1946 Shallow Water Oil Production in Louisiana

THUNDER BAY*
1953, Universal Pictures

Following up the last post, I think it’s interesting that Louisiana Story (1948) and Thunder Bay (1953) are both about shallow water oil production in 1946 Louisiana.   Louisiana Story was made in 1946 but released two years later, whereas Thunder … Read More

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Where Oil, Water and Cajuns Mix: Louisiana Story

Louisiana-Story-Poster-1948

The Louisiana bayou setting in Beasts of the Southern Wild reminds me of a 1948 film, Louisiana Story.  This movie is fascinating for a few reasons.  And, despite its quirks, I really like it. The black-and-white movie is almost entirely … Read More

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Climate Change and Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts-of-the-Southern-Wild-Poster-2012

As mentioned in an earlier post, energy and water are connected.  Climate change (induced mostly by the energy sector) makes this connection all the more apparent since global warming manifests itself primarily through distortions to the global water cycle, making … Read More

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Nuclear Energy and The Hunt For Red October

The Hunt for Red October Poster 1990

The James Bond tribute at the Oscars got me thinking again about the different ways energy has appeared in Bond films (see my earlier posts here, here, and here), and subsequently, the archetypal Bond Sean Connery. One non-Bond Sean Connery … Read More

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The Avengers and Nuclear Power

The Avengers
2012, Walt Disney Studios

Sticking to a theme of Oscar movies that have energy in them, I thought I would quickly mention a few things from the Avengers (2012). The most prominent energy angle is the recurring appearance of nuclearesque energy throughout the movie.  … Read More

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Hunger Games is a Hydroelectric Movie, Too

THE HUNGER GAMES
2012, Lionsgate

Following on our Jennifer Lawrence Oscar nominee theme, here’s a follow up to my earlier post regarding The Hunger Games.  While The Hunger Games (2012) is primarily a coal movie because of the imagery from district 12 (a coal mining … Read More

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Hunger Games is a Coal Movie

THE HUNGER GAMES
2012, Lionsgate

With Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Silver Linings Playbook, it seems like an appropriate time to highlight the energy content of her other big 2012 hit The Hunger Games.  It’s a coal movie.  … Read More

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Water Bottles and Guilt Trips

The Guilt Trip
2012, Paramount Pictures

This comedy about a mother-son road trip starring Barbra Streisand (Joyce) and Seth Rogen (Andy) doesn’t feature energy, unless you count a discussion about rental car options and the gas expense for SUVs.  However, there is a funny exchange regarding … Read More

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Skyfall IS an Energy Movie

SKYFALL
© 2012 - Danjaq, LLC, United Artists Corporation, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

Looks like we’re going to need a DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts of power for this post to correct the mistake written earlier by Michael! As it turns out, Skyfall IS an energy movie – sort of. (link to Michael’s original Skyfall blog post here) … Read More

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Quantum of Solace: An Energy and Water Film

QUANTUM OF SOLACE
2008, MGM & Columbia Pictures

Quantum of Solace (2008) is both an energy film and a water film. Oil makes an appearance when the CIA makes a deal with the bad guys to keep Bolivian oil flowing to the USA.  Keep in mind that in … Read More

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James Bond Saves the World from an Oil Crisis

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN
1983, Warner Bros.

In Never Say Never Again (1983) Sean Connery makes his triumphant return to the role he made famous (or was it the role that made him famous?) in a self-parody about coming out of retirement to save the day.  What … Read More

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Skyfall: NOT an energy movie

Skyfall Poster 2012

While Skyfall (2012) is many things—a fun movie, a Bond thriller, and a blockbuster—it is not an energy movie. But, for me, it does raise the question of which Bond movies have energy or resource themes.  And, in spirit of … Read More

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Elf – Santa’s magic sleigh runs on 1930s technology?

ELF
2003, New Line Cinema

I watched Elf over the holidays and realized it features energy, too.  As you may recall, “the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”  But, what does Santa fall back on when the Christmas Cheer is … Read More

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Promised Land and Made in America

PROMISED LAND,
2012, Focus Features

One of the recurring elements of the movie Promised Land (2012) is the idea of “Made in America.” The main character (played by Matt Damon) is mocked by his business partner at one point for wearing his old beat-up boots … Read More

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Indie Game: The Game Controller and the Power Line

Indie Game Poster 2012

My husband and I watched Indie Game a while back.  As my gaming days ended with Zelda, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this unexpectedly touching film. I recommend it whether you are into gaming or not. One of the … Read More

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The Promised Land: Texas Written On The Wall

PROMISED LAND,
2012, Focus Features

One more interesting tidbit I noticed in The Promised Land (2012) (Matt Damon’s movie about fracking) was the touching scene where Frances McDormand’s character (a landman* securing lease rights for drilling) communicates with her teenage son in Houston via Skype.  … Read More

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The Promised Land: Frac Fluids on Fire

PROMISED LAND,
2012, Focus Features

One of the more visually entertaining scenes in Promised Land (2012) was when the environmental activist Dustin Noble (played by John Krasinski) visited a local school to discuss the risks that fracking poses to farms.  Firstly, selecting the name of … Read More

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An Energy Expert’s Review of “Promised Land”

PROMISED LAND,
2012, Focus Features

I went to watch Promised Land (2013) last night.  The movie is rich with energy content, and so I will be blogging about it over multiple entries in the coming days/weeks.  But, I wanted to get a brief review and … Read More

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Promised Land Opens Friday

PROMISED LAND
2012, Focus Features

Promised Land is coming out this Friday January 4th.  I’m looking forward to seeing it and am curious to see how accurate it is.

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Welcome

Welcome to the Energy at the Movies Blog.  We hope you’ll check back over the coming months as we post our observations of energy in movies. Michael and Marianne

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