This paper addresses a new learning algorithm for the recently introduced co-sparse analysis model. First, we give new insights into the co-sparse analysis model by establishing connections to filter-based MRF models, such as the Field of Experts (FoE) model of Roth and Black. For training, we introduce a technique called bi-level optimization to learn the analysis operators. Compared to existing analysis operator learning approaches, our training procedure has the advantage that it is unconstrained with respect to the analysis operator. We investigate the effect of different aspects of the co-sparse analysis model and show that the sparsity promoting function (also called penalty function) is the most important factor in the model. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of our training approach, we apply our trained models to various classical image restoration problems. Numerical experiments show that our trained models clearly outperform existing analysis operator learning approaches and are on par with state-of-the-art image denoising algorithms. Our approach develops a framework that is intuitive to understand and easy to implement.