Unsolicited Endorsements: VII

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

This soccer-centric documentary debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in 2010, and it immediately struck a chord. Pelada, which literally translates to “naked” in Portuguese, is the Brazilian word for pickup soccer (or more correctly, futbol).

It’s the work of four young film-makers and stars Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham, two former college soccer standouts who travel the world in a constant search for the most basic form of the game — and what it means to each place. This week, more than a year after it surfaced on my radar, I was finally able to cross it off my list. (It’s streaming on Netflix.)

On the surface, this is essentially a love letter to the beautiful game, but the film resonated with me on two deeper levels: It opens a window into life in the unseen (the slums of Buenos Aires; a prison yard in La Paz, Bolivia; the tension-filled streets of Jerusalem), capturing the struggles and monotony of day-to-day life through the lens of futbol.

But it’s also about the film’s two main characters, Boughen and Oxenham, and their relationship with the game. And this theme will stick with anyone that ever invested their entire childhood into something they loved — and then had to let it go. — Rustin Dodd
***

It used to be that I calculated my hot chocolate intake in glasses per day. This might not seem terribly astonishing to you, but consider that I did this as recently as three years ago. Every time after I went for a run, I would drink hot chocolate. Every time I got back from class, I would drink hot chocolate. Loved the stuff.

I don’t drink it as often now. Last year, I bought a massive box of the Nestle kind with individual packets and I still haven’t drunk all of it. It’s pretty embarrassing. Maybe my intake has decreased because of the warm weather in Dallas. I’m not sure. All I know is that there is a chill in the air today, and has been for the last couple of days, and I’m going to start drinking hot chocolate. Lots of it. And I might even mix it with Peppermint Schnapps. Yeah, definitely.  — Mark Dent

***

Album: Wye Oak: “Civilian”

It’s mid-December, and the year-end lists are upon us. “Civilian,” a March release from Wye Oak, a Baltimore two-piece, might not end up on every list of 2011’s best, but it should. The band, which has roots in the soft, pensive blueprint drawn up by bands like Low, Ida and Sun Kil Moon, leave their slow-burning past behind them on “Civilian,” which features a bulked-up rhythm section and louder guitars, is a study in atmospheric rock.

From the propulsive acoustic base of the title track to the ever-building arpeggio that is “We Were Wealth” to the album’s final electric guitar-and-voice-only strains, Wye Oak plays hard and plays beautifully. If you’ve played out Bon Iver’s latest and are anxiously awaiting new tunes from Beach House, try Wye Oak on for size. — Asher Fusco


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