Charlottesville Breaking News

Last picture show

Sunday, Aug. 4, 2100 hrs. Moviegoers approach Vinegar Hill Theatre, one last time. A very different experience than the multi-screen, acres of asphalt Movieplex.

Commentator Bill Emory puts up a new photo nearly every day at


2 comments | read more

Foster disbelief: Elysium soars despite Oscar winner's failure

By Richard Roper

Jodie Foster delivers an unbelievably terrible performance in Elysium.    

Maybe the worst acting ever done by a two-time Oscar winner.    

A performance so awful I found myself keenly anticipating Foster's next scene to see if she would keep on bringing the dreadful.    

I say this as a HUGE fan of Jodie Foster. I'm telling you, it's amazing how bad she is in this movie.    

And how little it mattered in the grand, rabidly schizoid scheme of things.    

The Summer of Futuristic Doom continues with Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who showed such great promise with the claptrap minor classic District 9 and announces himself here as an "event" filmmaker— that rare breed whose very name preceding a title should inspire smiles of anticipation.    

Set in a predictably dystopian future (for most of the film, the year is 2154), Elysium tells us Earth has become a vast wasteland of pollution and corruption, with the .001 percent having fled to a utopian space station that hovers above the planet like a second, heavenly, taunting moon.    

Elysium is like a giant high-class suburban enclave, with the added benefit of nifty machines that can cure just about anything that ails you. (Lost opportunity: Blomkamp gives us only glimpses of...

3 comments | read more

Crank it up: Could a car start like a lawnmower?

 Dear Tom and Ray:       

OK, I know this is a pretty ridiculous question, but I've done a little research and can't find anything written on the subject. I was wondering if it's possible to implement a sort of pull-start system (like a lawnmower has) on my truck. The reason I would want this is for a situation such as a dead battery with no one to give me a jump-start. I just figured that it would be nice to have a system like this for occasional use. Now, I know I can just buy a portable jump-starter and keep that in my truck, but is a modification such as this possible? I appreciate your time and help.— Harvey       

RAY: Sure. On almost every car, there's a big, fat nut on the crankshaft pulley that bolts to the front of the crankshaft. That's the pulley with the serpentine belt running around it. If you were to turn that nut, you'd be turning the crankshaft and thereby "cranking the car."       
TOM: In fact, on old cars like the Model T Fords, that's exactly what people did. They went to the front of the car, fit a wrench on that nut and "cranked it" until the engine started.       
RAY: But it's not so easy with modern cars. First of all, you don't have easy access to it. Most modern engines are mounted transversely (aka installed sideways). So you'd have to smash a hole in one of your front fenders to get at the cra...

2 comments | read more


The August 1 Annual Manual incorrectly identified who put the Vinegar Hill Theatre building up for sale. It was owner Ann Porotti. In that same section, the Hook inadvertently ran an old review of the Carmike Six. We regret the error. 

We can't believe we forgot to include one of the newest and most popular restaurants around in the Food Finder section of our August 1 Annual Manual. Shout out to Burton's Grill located in the Shops at Stonefield for providing an upscale atmosphere and fresh, contemporary American cuisine. 

0 comments | read more

Mom's the word: Sons need to make their own choices

Dear Carolyn:     

My 18-year-old son recently began his first relationship with a 20-year-old girl. They've been attending community college together and started as friends. He still sees his friends, although he spends the rest of his time either texting, Skyping, watching TV remotely online, or spending time in person with her.     

They are both leaving home for different four-year universities in the fall. I was looking forward to the university further progressing his independence— new people, new activities, etc. However, their universities are within eight miles of each other— they applied before they knew each other— and they found free shuttles between their schools. They both have anxiety in public places so I'm afraid they're just going to reinforce each other's weaknesses and spend all their time in each other's dorm rooms rather than taking advantage of the university experience. I like his girlfriend, but I am concerned about her influence over him.     

I'd like to have an honest conversation with him about my concerns, yet I don't want to damage our changing relationship or make him think I question his ability to handle things. Should I talk to him about this, or just wait and see what happens?      —Worried Mom

Mom wants to instruct adult son on independence. We can pause a moment t...

0 comments | read more
Editor's Note
4Better Or Worse