Mel Brooks co-wrote, directed and stars in "Life Stinks," a comedy that pays more than a passing tribute to such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges and Frank Capra. Brooks plays a tycoon who bets a rival businessman he can survive for 30 days on the mean streets of Los Angeles. He does survive, and often enough, the comedy works. Brooks, along with Lesley Ann Warren, also manages to kid the early MGM musicals, with kindest regards, of course. Language. Rating: PG-13. ** Artist Scott Ponomone investigates a crowd of matinee theater-goers as they linger in the lobby at intermission, reading programs, sipping wine, the afternoon light catching them in a net of shadows and red carpet. This three-paneled painting is part of a show of new work by studio artists at School 33 Art Center. There are paintings, photographs and sculpture by Nicholas Corrin, Diane Kuthy, Murray Taylor, Alexandra Semionova, Helen Sharkey, Michela Caudill and John Hayes. Through Aug. 23 at the Center, 1427 Light St. Hours: Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call the center at 396-4641.
"Awakenings" is a romanticized but thoroughly engrossing version of a true story that took place in 1969 when a doctor at a Bronx hospital brought a group of post-encephalitis patients back to consciousness. Robin Williams and Robert De Niro star as doctor and patient, respectively, and you have seldom seen better acting. The film does have its share of laughs, but primarily it is an adroit mixture of comedy and pathos, an almost totally satisfying experience that is neither upper nor downer. Language. Rating: PG-13. ****