Twenty years after his beloved biopic Ed Wood, director Tim Burton reteams with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski for another study of oddball art. Big Eyes takes its name from the famed 1960s paintings of dour children with serious dilation issues, which made kitsch darlings out of husband-and-wife team Walter and Margaret Keane (played by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz and five-time nominee Amy Adams). ''They struck some chord in the suburban environment where I grew up in every dentist's office and store and house were these weird, sad, Big Brother things,'' says Burton. ''Some people loved them, and other people had a violently negative reaction. And I'm fascinated by the cosmic alignment that allows people to create something good and bad at the same time.''
The film, which Burton shot in 29 days for $10 million (1/20 the cost of his Alice in Wonderland), chronicles the couple's marriage and rancorous split amid revelations that Margaret was the true creator of what the world believed was Walter's work. ''She got lost in the lie,'' says Adams. ''Walter manipulated her for years by telling her that she'd go to jail, that it was fraud, that people would ask for their money back. But her strength eventually brought the truth out.'' Burton admits he was attracted to the Keanes' messed-up union, adding darkly, ''In life, is there anything other than a dysfunctional relationship?''