Critic’s Choice

CRITIC’S CHOICE/Music

Suzanne Vega

Mix Leonard Cohen’s lonely passion together with Laurie Anderson’s hypnotic flow, add part shy Joan Armatrading with word-conscious, whispy, youthful Joni Mitchell, and you’ve got the complex, vulnerable Suzanne Vega, who defies the insensitive ’80s angst with her thoughtful, sensitive style. With characteristic individualism, Vega’s tone is that of an isolated New Yorker, socially distanced but perceptively open. Her applauded 1985 debut album Suzanne Vega is delightfully followed by her recent Solitude Standing, on which she continues with sensual lyrics, mystical observances and resonous harmonies to make an uncategorizable blend of rock, jazz, folk and new age music.

— David Shaw

Suzanne Vega, Thurs/6 at 8 pm, Warfield Theater, 982 Market, SF. $16.50. 762-BASS.

CRITIC’S CHOICE/Film

Samuel Beckett, Silence to Silence

Samuel Beckett, one of the 20th century’s most intriguing and reclusive novelists and playwrights, is spotlighted in this insightful and thought-provoking documentary. Through a backdrop of still photographs and excerpts from many of Beckett’s works, including Murphy, Watt and Waiting for Godot, director Sean O Mordha traces Beckett’s childhood in Ireland, early years with the Surrealists in Paris, subsequent friendship with James Joyce, and later activity in the French resistance during WWII. Ultimately, myths of Beckett’s bleakness are dispelled, leaving us with a warm and honest vision of the man, and exposing the underlying simplicity in his complex and often misinterpreted work.

— Kate Kelly

Samuel Beckett, Silence to Silence. Fri/31-Sun/2 at 6:15, 8, 9:45 pm, with Sat. and Sun. matinees 2:45 and 4:30 pm. Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. $4.50; $3.50 members. 863-1087.

CRITIC’S CHOICE/Events

National Pipe Collector’s Expo

More than 60 collectors, dealers and craftsmen are scheduled to set up their wares at the National Pipe Collector’s Expo in Burlingame. Among them are Frank Burla, probably the foremost antique pipe collector in the U.S. and Michael Butera, a Texas craftsman whose classic-shaped pipes start at $150 at San Francisco’s Grant’s Pipe Shop. Pipe lovers can spot the exotic finds, the antiques and a whole range of meerschaums, the clay pipes that start out white and, as they’re smoked, slowly turn to pink, amber and rich ochre by absorbing the tobacco oils. Rick Hacker, author of The Ultimate Pipe Book, emcees the Saturday night awards banquet.

— Jean Field

The National Pipe Collector’s Expo. Sat/1 and Sun/2, 10 am-5 pm, Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, 600 Airport Blvd., Burlingame. $3. 965-4773.