Toto Recall: There’s No Place Like the Cinema Society for Watching Oz

Billy Zane, looking sharp (Nicholas Hunt / Patrick McMullan)

Billy Zane, searching for just the right words. (Nicholas Hunt / Patrick McMullan)

“This party is the tits!” someone yelled last week inside Richie Notar’s new Midtown glamor spot, Harlow. Shindigger had to agree, although more appropriate expressions did come to mind, considering it followed a screening of the family-friendly film Oz the Great and Powerful presented by the Cinema Society and Gucci.

Without a munchkin in sight, the crowd was as lubed up as the Tin Man, and Shindigger had every intention of following the partygoers down that yellow brick road.

At the bar, we ran into the French-born artist Anh Duong, who explained that she had just come back from Puerto Rico and had barely gotten out of the house today owing to the weather and a general drizzly malaise. “This is a time of the year when not much is happening in New York, and everybody is just coming out of the long winter and just waiting for spring to arrive.”

Nearby was designer Charlotte Ronson, getting cozy with a friend at a candlelit table. She said the movie was a welcome break, as she’s been nose-to-the-grindstone nonstop since showing her fashion collection at Lincoln Center. “Work, work, work!” she huffed.

Also nearby was Billy Zane, cramming an amuse-bouche into his mouth. “The food is stunning—the chicken is pretty exceptional,” said Mr. Zane, who imbibed the passed hors d’oeuvres with equal zeal. “The bar has a subtle hand—this is a basil gimlet.”

Mr. Zane is promoting his latest film Electrick Children, which stars up-and-coming leading lady Julia Garner. “I’m a new father, so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at home in Los Angeles, and it’s just really lovely to be back on the block downtown.”

A photographer interrupted us, and the actor happily mugged for the camera, then quickly ordered him to take another shot for insurance. We shifted conversation to the film at hand, and he seemed to search for the right words. “I appreciated the scope and pure escapism. It was very generous,” he said.

Another moviegoing dad in attendance, John Varvatos, was more enthusiastic. “We loved it!” he said.

“It was one of the most visually inspiring movies I’ve ever seen!” he gushed. “I can’t wait to take my 4-year-old to see it.” But the merry outing would have to wait, as Mr. Varvatos was bound for Los Angeles for a fund-raiser and to begin filming Fashion Star. Apparently, the only two places worth gallivanting between this time of year are New York and L.A.

Shindigger’s favorite little fashion prince, Harry Brant, decked out in “old” Galliano, floated by our table. It had been a while since he had shown up at a Cinema Society affair.

Thoughts on the movie, Mr. Brant?

“I’ve never seen such impressive special effects! I want to go to Oz,” he confessed. “I loved it!”

We wanted to know if Daddy Brant (a k a billionaire Peter Brant) had made any purchases at the Armory art show. “My dad actually picked out a couple of pieces,” he said with a knowing smile.

Shindigger went on an adventure in search of red wine and bumped into Padma Lakshmi, who has been busy organizing this season’s Blossom Ball. Had she had a chance to try Harlow’s food? we wondered. “I did have some mini mushroom tapas, which were lovely,” she said.

Growing weary of the endless merriment, Shindigger asked Daniel Benedict—who accompanies Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir to nearly every one of these screenings—exactly how he keeps his energy up.

“Vitamin C and plenty of rest,” he laughed. “Or a disco nap!”

Ah, yes, the glorious disco nap. “What time is ideal for one?” we asked.

“6 to 6:20 p.m.! Honestly, I shut my eyes for 20 minutes and then—I’m not joking—Vita Coco Coconut Water. I have one every night before I go out.”

“Yeah! Very hydrated,” interjected Carson Kressley with a crude wink, before taking a sip of his drink.

Queen Lakshmi beckoned. “Daniel!” In a flash, Mr. Benedict was gone.

Shindigger polished off the rest of our wine with Mr. Kressley. We wanted to hear his thoughts on the film before we exited Harlow.

“The visuals were delicious,” he said. “But I thought the China Doll was a little strangely slutty! At the end, when she was like, ‘What did you get me?’ to [James Franco’s character] and he replied, ‘Not what you want!’ I was like, oh my God, are they having a kiki right now? I don’t think that was on purpose!”

Obviously Mr. Kressley didn’t get the memo about it being a family-friendly night.

blehay@observer.com