In the movie, the fictional IBBC brokers weapons, finances coups and arranges an assassination, all while taking advantage of the complexities of international law and ducking regulatory review. In real life, a bank called BCCI was shut down in 1991 after being accused of similar offenses, a scandal the producers of The International say provided a springboard for the movie's script.
"We were treading on ground that had its basis in reality," producer Charles Roven says. "The events that have transpired since the film was shot would prove that regulatory review is complicated, clearly, at its best, and sometimes is insufficient at its worst."
Vigorously and vibrantly directed by Tom Tykwer, The International lives up to its name with stunning scenes set in exotic Milan and Istanbul and a pivotal shootout that annihilates the inside of New York's Guggenheim Museum.
On DVD:Flash of GeniusUniversal Studios Home Entertainment, Feb. 17. $29.98
Based on a true story, Greg Kinnear plays Robert Kearns, an engineering professor who invented the intermittent windshield wiper around the time Detroit's automakers were fruitlessly trying to do the same thing.
In the movie, Kearns is abruptly cut out of a deal with Ford Motor. He then accuses Ford of copying his design. The ensuing legal battle, which Kearns wins and is awarded millions, lasts for years and takes a toll on the engineer's mental health and family.
Though it failed to make much of a dent at the box office in the fall, Flash of Genius has the makings of a fine rental: a quiet, David vs. Goliath drama suitable for family viewing that loses nothing in the transfer to the small screen.
On the radio:Debt of Service: Personal Finance in the Military'Marketplace Money,' produced by American Public Media, Feb. 21 or 22 (check marketplace.org for listings or to listen to podcast).
Marketplace Money, the entertaining weekend radio program that says it looks at stories that affect the average listener's wallet, plans to devote an entire show to the personal-finance problems of soldiers and sailors.
Among topics host Tess Vigeland will cover: the financial impact on families of wounded soldiers, the negative effect constant relocation has on the salaries of military spouses, the challenges faced by reservists who run small businesses, a counseling program that assigns an onboard command finance specialist for every 75 sailors, and an essay by Jarhead author Anthony Swofford.
Military personnel face some of the same problems in the current economy as civilians, Vigeland says. The one thing they don't have to worry about is losing their jobs.
"The economy actually has sparked an increase in people who are signing up for service as a job," Vigeland says. "The likelihood of getting laid off is not very high in the military."
On TV:Frontline: Inside the MeltdownPBS, Feb. 17, 9 p.m. ET (check local listings or pbs.org)
Writer/director Michael Kirk crisply packages the dramatic events of the current economic crisis with a verbal timeline — from the Bear Stearns deal to Lehman Bros.' downfall to the $700 billion bailout package — made up of quotes from lawmakers, journalists and corporate insiders.
The illuminating and sobering hour also focuses on the unprecedented steps taken by then-Treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to control the carnage.