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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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SHALLOW HAL (PG-13) A nerd (Jack Black) only interested in physical beauty is "de-hypnotized" to perceive a 300-lb woman as a svelte beauty (Gwyneth Paltrow in a convincing fat suit). Most of the fat jokes in the Farrelly Brothers' winning romantic comedy have been crammed into the trailer, allowing the rest of the movie to make its case as a sympathetic tale about getting past surface appearances. Black's performance is a delight, retaining his character's goofball persona while also showing us the blossoming adult underneath, but Paltrow's empathic contribution is also key.--MB

13 GHOSTS (R) It's spelled "Thir13een Ghosts" in the ads, which may be the most memorable part of this flick about a haunted house made mostly of glass. From the makers of 1999's already-forgotten remake of The House on Haunted Hill, it features Tony Shalhoub, F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Lillard and Shannon Elizabeth.

TRAINING DAY 1/2 (R ) As a rookie cop, normally wooden Ethan Hawke raises himself out of a career-long slumber to keep pace with the extraordinary Denzel Washington as a corrupt narcotics officer. The work by both actors keeps uswatching even after the movie surrounding them falls apart, and what started out as tantalizingly clouded eventually comes into dreary black and white focus, turning the film into a fairly routine (not to mention contrived) police shoot-'em-up.--MB

WAKING LIFE (PG-13) Richard Linklater's meditation on the meaning of life and the nature of dreams figuratively retraces the structure of his film debut Slacker, randomly following a gabby bunch of characters. Then it literally retraces it, putting painterly animation over the images already filmed. Waking Life alternates between hauntingly surreal moments and trippy but at times tedious lectures on everything from reincarnation to quantum mechanics. A one-of-a-kind exploration of dream logic that fascinates slightly more often than it frustrates.--CH

ZOOLANDER 1/2 (PG-13) Ben Stiller serves as actor, director, co-writer and co-producer for a surprisingly timid spoof with a handful of splendid gags. Stiller and Owen Wilson are perfectly cast as vapid male supermodels who become involved in assassination conspiracy, with cameos from everyone from Fabio to David Bowie. --MB

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