Last week I happened to see the Coen brothers’ A SERIOUS MAN and the new TNT show “Men of a Certain Age” on the very same night. The two couldn’t be more different in execution: in the Coens’ film, a flat-out signature style-fest, a rock-solid universe where nary a prop is askew, every single frame feeling conceived, composed, rehearsed, like clockwork, like buttah. “Men of a Certain Age” aims for a loose, realist, doc style in both camera technique and performance, and off-the-cuff dialogue and swish pans make it feel less like traditional TV coverage. Lurking not far beneath the surface, however, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two in terms of theme — two properties on the entertainment market at one moment in the zeitgeist, dealing with middle-aged men in crisis.
But not just any kind of crisis … this ain’t no AMERICAN BEAUTY carpe diem woulda-coulda-shoulda crap. In the Coens’ piece, more so than in “Men” but still present in both, is a desire to engage with serious existential questions of being.