Looking For Kitty

Crimes:

• Turning a fairly decent premise—about a private investigator who obsesses over a vanishing New York while helping a suburban schlub find his wife—into the standard Ed Burns mix of maudlin monologues with obvious, unfunny punchlines

• Being shot with a digital camera that makes everything look like it's being viewed through a bug-spattered windshield

• Ripping off other indie films so shamelessly that it verges on parody

Defender: Writer-director Ed Burns

Tone of commentary: Smarmy, instructional, and annoyingly repetitive. Burns uses the word "again" over and over as he points out how he picked up shots on the fly, leading to unavoidable continuity errors that he feels are no big deal. Burns also keeps referring to his style of filmmaking as "low-budj."

What went wrong: Blame the system! Burns spends a good chunk of the commentary lamenting the end of the "low-budj" indie-film era, and all but admits that he pulled this movie out of his ass—hammering out a screenplay in three days and shooting the first version in 10—because he couldn't get the money to film a script he cared about more.

Comments on the cast: Burns rips on himself during a scene where his character breaks down: "This is some of the worst acting you're ever going to see in your life." As for the rest of the cast, Burns mostly just points out the other Ed Burns films they've all been in, boasting, "Another thing I'm constantly doing is trying to find my little troupe of actors."

Inevitable dash of pretension: Burns notes how Looking For Kitty fits his pet theme: "this generation of American men that so desperately holds onto what they loved in their adolescence." He also mentions the shots he stole from Midnight Cowboy and Lost In Translation—the latter in a dream sequence that turns Sofia Coppola's smeary urban impressionism into unintentional camp—and compares his use of overdubbed dialogue to "the Italian neo-realists and the French New Wave."

Commentary in a nutshell: "I've kind of mastered the art of making low-budj films."