As "Side Effects" co-stars Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones were no-shows at Wednesday night’s group Q & A for the twisty new Steven Soderbergh thriller "Side Effects" (February 7), the filmmaker himself was the star of the night. Soderbergh charmed his post-screening audience at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater as thoroughly as he did the entire internet earlier this week in his conversation with Mary Kate Schilling for Vulture.

Steven Soderbergh, Scott Burns, Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Vinessa Shaw.
Steven Soderbergh, Scott Burns, Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Vinessa Shaw.

Per usual, the director waxed acerbic on the Sorry State of Film Today and eloquent on the oeuvre of Joe Eszterhas – a writer whose chief legacy until now has been parody commentary and drinking games (take a shot if you thought you’d ever see the words “oeuvre” and “Eszterhas” in the same sentence).

Despite a prior agreement not to discuss Soderbergh’s imminent retirement from filmmaking, the question came up – hilariously – during his shot-by-shot breakdown of a key confrontation between the two characters played by Jude Law and Rooney Mara.

Other highlights of the 40-minute free-for-all included: Law’s description of the complicated number-coding system he used to keep track of character and plot-twists; a discussion of Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity"; and Soderbergh and writer Scott Burns' double-team rebuttal to the last and dumbest question of the evening, in which an audience member asked them whether they had sacrificed a deep critique of big pharma in the service of “just” telling a story.

Spoiler free highlights plus review roundup below: