Magazine article The New Yorker

Modern Love

Magazine article The New Yorker

Modern Love

Article excerpt


In Mike Nichols's classic 1967 film, "The Graduate," Benjamin Braddock, the fretful college grad played by Dustin Hoffman, rejects his parents' life of conformity and drives around to Simon and Garfunkel songs. "Where are you going?" his dream girl, with whom he's been on one date, asks. "Elaine," he says, "you're going to have to stop asking me that." Oh, and he also has sex with Elaine's mom.

Nearly half a century later, Nichols's son, Max, has directed his own comedy about aimless grads. In "Two Night Stand," which opens later this month, Megan and Alec, played by Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller, exchange flirtatious messages online, hook up in real life, quarrel the morning after, discover they're snowed in, smoke some weed, talk languorously, and turn an assignation into something more. Nobody has sex with anybody's mom.

Over dinner outside at Lulu & Po, in Fort Greene, in Brooklyn, Max Nichols said, "To me, what's current about the film is that, instead of having the scene where a buddy says, 'Forget about her, go and have a palate cleanser,' and points out a cute girl at the bar, now electronic dating slash hooking up has made the aftermath of being jilted, as Megan just was, easy and private." As black clouds massed overhead, he continued, "Megan and Alec aren't Tinder junkies--they're awkward about the protocols." (Megan instantly nixes the guys who respond to her tentative I.M.s with "Sup?" and "HEY SEXXXY GIRL.") "But maybe technology allows young people to be more honest with themselves about who they really find attractive." He rubbed his chin and added, "And maybe I should have put more of that in the movie."

Nichols is forty, and he and his wife, the CNN sports reporter Rachel Nichols, have twins, yet he retains a goatee and a graying pompadour. He said that while the film's soundtrack, which includes songs from Freelance Whales and Wild Nothing, harks back to the synth-pop of his youth, it's also apt for a couple nearly half his age: "I don't consider myself young in any way, but I do feel part of a generation that's somewhat arrested. And the first time you stay up all night with someone, drinking and talking and maybe fooling around, you hear music in a totally different way." The heavens opened, and he laughed and stood to carry his Narragansett beer inside.Max Nichols

Nichols grew up on MTV and came to features after fifteen years of directing music videos for everyone from Willie Nelson to Kirk Franklin. …

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