In the opening moments of "The Big Bang," director James Toback swallows and takes a deep breath before launching his spiel -- he's trying to woo a prospective producer into investing in his plotless, scriptless, starless movie about "the orgasmic explosion of God," a movie that would be about "creation, disintegration, life, love, sex, madness, death -- everything!" Well, Toback got his money, and the amazing thing is, his swift little movie -- boiled down to 78 fascinating minutes from 50 hours of footage -- nearly lives up to his grandiose pitch. Toback, a gifted schmoozer who directed "The Pick-Up Artist" and "Exposed," gathered 19 extraordinarily cooperative subjects -- among them a boy, a girl, a mother, a philosopher/nun, a gangster/actor, a basketball star, an Auschwitz survivor, a model, a champion boxer, a Hollywood producer, a concert violinist -- and put to them the Big Questions: How and why did the universe get here? Is there a purpose to life? What do you think about sex, reproduction, creativity and destructiveness and the changing perception of the self? In its "talking heads" approach and elegant composition, camerawork and editing, "The Big Bang" recalls Andre Gregory's "My Dinner with Andre" (and to a lesser degree, Diane Keaton's "Heaven"), offering an array of fascinating confessions, insights, whimsies, banalities and evasions from these extraordinary ordinary people -- this stuff couldn't have been scripted. "The Big Bang" works as a sort of entertainment therapy, and eavesdropping on all this intimate but expansive talk will surely leave you with questions of your own. Including the one Toback's potential producer poses at the very end, which should have you laughing as you leave. Biograph. -Joe Brown


George C. Scott is police Lt. Kinderman, investigating a series of murders in Georgetown. Turns out to be the forces of Old Nick again. Original "Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty directs. Also features Ed Flanders and Viveca Lindfors. Area theaters.


Steve Martin is a mafia informant sent to live in a sleepy town under the Federal Witness Protection Program, and Rick Moranis is the FBI agent assigned to protect him. Area theaters.