dark knight rises (poster)*”The Dark Knight Rises” will raise a lot of loot at the box office but a small indie film, “The Collaborator,” that opened at the IFC Center and is a Movie on Demand, is a powerful film that keeps you guessing while biting your nails sitting on the edge of your seat. The Tribeca Film VOD stars David Morse (“The Green Mile,” “The Negotiator,” “Bait,” “16 Blocks”) and Martin Donovan (“Unthinkable,” “The United States of Leland”).

Robert Longfellow (Donovan) can’t seem to catch a break. His recent Broadway play was met with terrible reviews and an early cancellation, and his marriage is being tested as an old flame enters his life during that trying time. Retreating back to his childhood home to visit his mother, he crosses paths with childhood friend, Gus (Morse). A right-wing, ex-con who still loves still lives at home with his mother, Gus is Robert’s polar opposite in every way. When Gus hold Robert hostage at gunpoint and the imminent threat of violence builds, the climax leads both men facing life or death.

With such a well thought out intelligent script, The Film Script asked Morse what was his initial reaction when it landed in his hands? “I couldn’t believe that he was asking me to do it,” Morse says. “I just couldn’t imagine I was the first person to come to mind when the role of Gus was written. The sort of dangerous part of him, I’ve had characters that go that way, but the humor is something I don’t get to do an awful lot. I was surprised and grateful that he would come up with me as an idea for the role.”

There’s a man-child trend and Martin you created very unique man-child who at 57 is still living at home and happens to be a murderer. How did this idea come to you?

MD: I think it’s common. I think everybody knows some version of Gus. When I was growing up I knew several. One in particular that was sort of the starting point for Gus was a guy who lived across the street from me who, he wasn’t 57, but he would have been if he hadn’t died in a SWAT team standoff in his home. Cops surrounded the place and my parents had to be evacuated. But anyway, that was a spark. I had moved away from home and about a year or two later I came home to visit my parents, pulled up outside the house and this guy name Tim, approached me and initiated a conversation not unlike the first conversation you see with us in the garage. It was kind of frightening.

Martin, how hard is it getting a film like this made sans explosions, car chases, CGI? 

MD: This film was only made because I’ve been living in Canada for the last 10 years and as a permanent resident, that qualifies me for funding, tax breaks, and so forth. Most of the film was short in Ontario. This film would have never, ever, ever been financed by US money. Never. We tried. Believe me, we tried. It might’ve been possible 10 years ago, maybe. It would have been hard them.

David, do you find that it’s invigorating to do TV, especially the shows that you have done?

DM: Well first of all it pays the bills, and I don’t mean to denigrate it, because there’s no question that several people have commented we’re in the golden age of television and I think it’s true. Because the studio system is dead in terms of producing anything other than spectacle or thrill rides, and there are a few exceptions getting back to genres. So the stuff that resonates and the people who want to do that are forced to go into television; writers, directors, actors. So of course I think it’s great, it’s a mode of survival for the arts and for the performing arts, absolutely. Just look at a show like “Luck,” and the people involved in that, even though it’s not on the air, and “Treme” as well. There are a lot of shows. When I did “St. Elsewhere” it was really difficult to make that transition from television into movies, even though I’d done a movie first, I did a movie called “Inside Movies,” and I said I would never do television, I wound up doing 10 years on television and thought I would never get out of it. And now people move so freely back and forth. I think part of it is there is so much competition for an audience now that if you have any cache in television it helps you with the feature world, which 20 years ago, 25 years ago, you never would imagine that happening.

‘Margaret’ is back with a bang

Jeannie Berlin, Anna Paquin and Michael Ealy

Jeannie Berlin, Anna Paquin and Michael Ealy

*There was standing room only recently inside the New York Landmark Sunshine Cinema with long lines of wishful fans still outside minutes before a special screening of Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret,” with Anna Pacquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Jeannie Berlin, Michael Ealy (part of the African American legal team that represented Lisa (Paquin) and (Berline) and Matthew Broderick, that was hoping to get in minutes before the movie was about to start. The special three hour and 18 minutes screening was held in conjunction with the release of the “Margaret” Blu-ray and DVD Extended Cut. In this coming of age story, teenager Lisa (Paquin) has her life turned upside down when she is the cause of an accident that kills a woman.

After the movie, there was a Q&A session with Lonergan, cast members Ruffalo, Broderick, Berline, J. Smith-Cameron, Jean Reno, John Gallagher Jr., and Kevin Geer. Shot in 2005, the film was no released until last year for a limited run because of legal woes. Had it not been plagued by internal strife, the film would surely have been nominated for Oscars.

Marie Moore is a syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]