Scott and Joann MeinMention the words “film” or “movie” and Scott Mein’s face lights up.

Film is a passion of this ex-history teacher. Ask him anything on the subject and he will rattle off anything you want to know; his knowledge of films seems limitless.

He and his wife, JoAnn Mein, host a film club as part of the Newcomers and Old Friends at Lake Monticello.

“When I was a kid I was too hyperactive to sit and read for hours but my dad was a big storyteller and would tell us stories about when he was in the war [World War II] and basketball, which he loved,” said Mein. “I enjoyed these stories over and over again so that’s when I turned to movies for entertainment. I love the medium; they are my books.”

Mein reminisced about some of the old films. He recited the classic lines between Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando: “I could have had class. I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody,” from On the Waterfront, one of Mein’s favorite films. Mein agrees with Director Elia Kazan’s strong, gritty and dark vision, and credits stellar performances from not only Brando and Steiger but also Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint and Carl Malden. He called the film a true Hollywood classic that has withstood time by reflecting society and its struggles in a raw and enduring way.

When quizzed on Ronald Coleman’s famous line in A Tale of Two Cities, Mein nailed it: “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”

The Searchers with John Wayne is one of Mein’s favorites, and he said Kirk Douglas in Spartacus delivered a compelling performance. He also named the Academy Award-winning movie Best Years of Our Lives as another thought-provoking film.

There are so many films and so many memorable performances, so many directors with varied visions bringing to life the writer’s meaning. This is what attracts and excites Mein. Sitting alone or with one or two others in distant corners of the theater, he watches the flickering images across the screen with focused attention and later walks out with a better understanding of the writer’s message.

“I love going to the movies, the big screen, I become engulfed in it,” Mein said. Even his son is a convert and had considered majoring in film. It has become a shared family passion.

The film club is the ultimate gathering of film buffs. Mein’s “movie room” is lined with shelves of DVDs.

“I have all the films listed on the 100 Best Films of All Time,” he said. The list includes classics like Citizen Kane and The Wizard of Oz. His favorite film of all time is Forrest Gump. “It encompasses everything you want in a movie,” he said. “Tom Hanks’ performance as young man who was simpleminded but understood unconditional love is so memorable.”

The film club picks two to four movies a month, Mein does the research, then they view and discuss it. He said that they occasionally go on field trips and recently visited the Packard Campus Theater of the Library of Congress in Culpeper where they show movies on certain days of the week and restore films. For anyone who loves film, this is a must-see visit.

Regarding today’s films, he liked LBJ, but being the historian that he is, he was critical about some of the historical aspects of the film. “People need to be careful to be more discerning when seeing a historical film,” said his wife.

“Oliver Stone’s JFK is one example of bias and some directors may show a clear bias in their work,” said Mein. “However, film can teach us about history and society.” He added that many will avoid a certain type of film with controversial social issues, such as the Holocaust, because they can’t watch it. But he believes many films that bring life’s trauma into the foreground are doing so for a reason and should not be ignored. Film can be a great educational tool, he said.

Mein thought Loving Vincent was groundbreaking for an animated film and echoed the praises of others who have seen this film. He also enjoys independent films and wishes more people could see these unknown gems. Mein also savors foreign film, pointing out that foreign films are a different breed, often slower in pace than American films, but strong on character development.

“There is a lot going on in film. It’s a booming time,” he said.