If ever a movie fit this series’ definition of films with a strong point of view, it’s James Toback’s documentary The Big Bang, which had a limited theatrical release in 1990. Here’s a movie in which a group of disparate people, ranging from a basketball player to a nun, are asked to grapple with all the biggies: Life, Sex, Death, the Origin of the Universe, and ”If you were offered a million dollars to kill someone, would you do it?”
That last question is asked of Tony Sirico, an ex-gangster, who replies in the negative. ”Why?” asks Toback. ”Because I don’t need the money,” Sirico replies.
On the other hand, Top Gun and Days of Thunder producer Don Simpson would require no such reward to rub someone out: ”I would kill someone with absolutely no compunction if they transgressed me,” he says. Toback deserved an Oscar for the Simpson segments alone, which expose the famously arrogant, deeply tanned producer as a sun-dried goofball, a callous California raisin: ”I have seen people killed,” he brags, ”it was in self-defense, and you know what? That’s show biz” Come again, Don?
Toback, the hard-boiled philosopher who has directed such enjoyably garish thrillers as Fingers and Exposed, simply places people in front of his camera and peppers them with questions. The Big Bang has its tedious patches of vagueness and inarticulate responses, and Toback really doesn’t do justice to one of his interviewees, the exceptional comic writer Veronica Geng, whose musings deserve more screen time. But for the most part, the film is highly engaging, one big brainteaser. B