Weekly Video Picks

The Goonies (1985)

Childhood friendship is a wondrous thing. But unexpected crises can put it to the test and deepen it in ways rarely experienced in adult life. The Goonies, based on a story by Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List) and directed by Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon), is the name of a band of suburban kids who may lose their homes because a sleazy developer has bought out their neighborhood and wants to turn it into a country club.

Mikey Walsh (Sean Astin) finds a treasure map in his parents' attic and gathers his friends (Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeffrey Jay Cohen and Martha Plimpton) to find the booty and use it to buy back their houses. What follows is a cross between Spy Kids and the more adult-oriented Indiana Jones adventures. The kids embark on a quest that pits them against booby traps, pirate ships and the wilds of nature. But beneath the fun and fantasy is a simple story of good versus evil.

The Crusades (1935)

Islam and the West were locked in mortal combat throughout most of the Middle Ages.

The significance of this part of our history has been downplayed by the academy in recent years, except as a reason for Europe to feel guilty about its treatment of the Third World. The Crusades, directed by Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments), is a glorious throwback, with brave knights, beautiful maidens and epic battles against the infidels.

It also chronicles the moral education of the English king, Richard the Lion-Hearted (Henry Wilcox-on), who must learn about the meaning of marriage and the Christian ideals for which he's fighting.

Richard dumps his fiancee, the French king's sister (Katherine DeMille), to head off to the Holy Land, and gets betrothed to Berengaria (Loretta Young), the King of Navarre's daughter, to obtain needed supplies for his great adventure. Berengaria accompanies him to Jerusalem.

When she's kidnapped by the cultured Muslim leader, Saladin (Ian Keith), Richard must risk everything to rescue her.

Wit (2001)

To intellectuals, knowledge is often an end in itself, and intelligence the primary virtue. Dr. Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson) is an expert on John Donne's poetry, and she has sacrificed everything else to become the leading scholar in her field. Wit, an HBO cable movie based on Margaret Edson's play and directed by Mike Nichols (The Graduate), dramatizes those moments when this great mind comes to realize that her assumptions about life may be wrong.

Diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, Dr. Bearing agrees to an experimental program of high-dose chemotherapy that risks killing her quicker than the disease. The medical researchers in charge, Dr. Kelkovian (Christopher Lloyd) and Dr. Posner (Jonathan Woodward), mirror her previous mindset in their cold-blooded pursuit of the truth. This is contrasted with the gratuitous kindness of one of her nurses (Audra McDonald) in easing her excruciating pain. The brilliant literary scholar begins to understand the importance of simple caring and the need for human connection.