Steven Stilled: At the Screening of Soderbergh’s Pharma Pic

Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rooney Mara and Jude Law (Patrick McMullan)

Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rooney Mara and Jude Law (Patrick McMullan)

“Tickets out!” they barked. “This area is not cleared for standing!” It was as if the AMC Lincoln Square had been converted into an international airport and Shindigger was preventing aircraft from landing.

The multiplex was bursting with the arrivals of Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum for the premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, hosted by Open Road Films, The Cinema Society and designer Michael Kors.

Turns out no area was cleared for loitering, and Shindigger wound up in a circling pattern—up and down the escalators—trying to take it all in. When even Donna Karan was told to keep moving and make her way promptly to her seat, we finally surrendered to the cineplex goons and followed suit.

“I’m on a beta blocker right now and I feel fine,” joked Mr. Soderbergh before the movie began. “The less I say the better!”

His pharmaceutical humor was very apropos for a psychological thriller that tells the murderous tale of a seemingly depressed young woman (Ms. Mara), who struggles as her husband (Mr. Tatum) is released from prison following a white-collar banking crime. After an alleged suicide attempt, she begins to see a psychiatrist (Mr. Law) who prescribes Ablixa, a powerful, fictitious antidepressant, to combat her illness. The movie was The Cinema Society’s trippiest in recent memory, and we weren’t the only ones wandering about in a daze afterward.

“Are you on medicine? Are you having a vision?” Shindigger overheard Ms. Karan saying to her daughter Gabby Karan De Felice with a laugh. “Oh my God, I can’t believe how old I am!”

We dashed through the wintry chill to the Stone Rose Lounge in the Time Warner Center, wondering if we were still hallucinating when we spotted Liza Minnelli—face aglow—as she preened herself in the back of a black Lincoln Navigator SUV. Shindigger sidled up to knock on her window and say hello, but the driver shot us a look of “don’t you dare.” (My, how security people get crankier the farther north you travel.)

Ten minutes later, we had nestled into the warmth of Stone Rose with a medicinal glass of rouge.

“I love, love, loved it!” Ms. Karan screeched over the deejay’s music as Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir escorted her behind Mr. Kors, who had designed the dress Ms. Zeta-Jones just happened to be wearing. We shuffled over to Ms Zeta-Jones and exchanged a few words, unbeknownst to her just-as-cranky-looking gatekeepers.

“The script was so well-written—it just jumped off the page,” the Oscar winner explained. “With Steven Soderbergh at the helm, it was just a dream.” Shindigger leaned in for a bisou-bisou, but she had already moved on.

We grabbed some fiery libation off a passing tray and darted toward Ms. Mara. The Vogue February cover girl was mum. Had she signed some exclusive with Anna Wintour not to talk to the press? Or was she simply too big for words these days? Shindigger played nice and tried to butter her up with a compliment. “Your couture is phenomenal,” we said.

“I’m wearing Alexander McQueen,” she replied sharply, then slunk away.

We surveyed the crowd and came up with what looked like a Baldwin. “Which one is that?” we asked a pair of friends. “It’s Stephen,” one ventured.

Unconvinced, we wound up chatting instead with Richard Kind, who plays screenwriter Max Klein in Argo. He went on for a bit about the upcoming Clifford Odets play he’s starring in at The Roundabout, but we had more pressing matters to discuss. “Will Argo win the Oscar for Best Picture?” we asked.

“If I say yes, I will put the kibosh on it. But I do believe—and this is the honest to God’s truth—and not just ’cuz I’m in it and not just ’cuz I know the producers … I do believe that it should be Best Picture. I feel it fills every category that a Best Picture should.”

Shindigger nodded in agreemnt. “We have the SAG copy at our house,” we confessed.

“So you didn’t pay your 11 dollars? That’s money out of my kids’ mouths!” he yelled with a smile before we departed for a refill.

Over by the bar, we found Laila Robins and complimented her performance in the movie as one of Jude Law’s psychiatry associates. “He was so lovely to work with. He had seen me in a play. I showed up on set, and he was so nice to me,” the delightful Ms. Robins explained. “We had this nice little icebreaker about all the things he wants to do in the theater. I think he wants to do Henry V. It was a nice way to even the playing field!”

“I don’t know if he’s here tonight,” she continued, looking around.

She apparently missed Mr. Law lounging alongside co-star Ms. Zeta-Jones on a scarlet leather banquette. Unfortunately, Shindigger was not fortunate enough to grab a few words with the dashing star. Maybe we don’t do enough theater?

blehay@observer.com