Table manners: Cantona gets his teeth into a scene from le Bonheur
(‘antona ()n ('antona. a carefully controlled book published by the Manchester United imprint of Andre Deutsch. is full of new and unusual black-and-white pictures of him. many taken by Lorenzo Agius. who created the memorable 'Iiainspotting billboard poster. The book features his views on 35 subjects varying from silence to anarchy. from women to utopia. ‘(iiven the choice. I‘d come back as an eagle.‘ Cantona says. 'l love the way eagles move; the way they soar. the way they gaze.‘ Hope for Crystal Palace. of that nickname. it seems.
You begin to wonder whether the effect of all this exposure might be to render Cantona less
role as Manchester United captain. he occasionally speaks to the press after matches and. though the bearing is for- midable. the linglish words are difficult to find. The hauteur is gone. to be replaced by shyness. ‘l have had some bad games.’ he said after a recent match. ‘I forgot I could play so badly.‘ Such an admission would once have remained unheard in public.
Not only has Cautona's contribution been. at best. fitftil during the defeats by Newcastle, Southampton. Fenerbahce and Chelsea. but he has been fortunate to escape expulsion on several occasions. At Newcastle. he stamped on Alan Shearer‘s ankles. bared his studs at Peter Beardsley and baulked Philippe Albert in a feud which dates back to the pre-season Charity Shield.
It may be that his frustration is growing anew. When at his best with United. he had Paul lnce winning the ball in midfield for him. Andrei Kanchelskis as a flying outlet wide on the right and Mark Hughes to draw some of the physical attention. Cantona compensated manfully last
8 The List l5-28 Nov 1996
I’d hesitate to say what fearsome. less mythical. In his happened at crysml Palace was a mistake, or that it was foolish or silly. It was far too complicated to be characterised in such simplistic terms.’
season when all three had departed. producing telling passes and goals; but then there was still Steve Bruce. now at Birmingham City. to be team leader and ease the burden.
The view in France of Cantona the player is that he has always been one who will enhance a team rather than be it — gilder of the lily rather than the lily itself. With United. he was the final part in thejigsaw; now as they struggle to cross the divide from domestic dominance to European success - the Champion‘s (‘up being the grail that the clth and its Glaswegian manager Alex Ferguson would so dearly love to grasp to emulate Sir Matt Busby and the predecessors of l968 — the jury is close to returning a verdict.
That judgement will wonder if Cantona is the player to help Ferguson. with whom he has been so inextricably linked. to make a great leap forward that‘s more useful than the one at Selhurst Park. Perhaps when Cantona‘s current profile has waned a little. we will see him as of old. But before he goes back into his shell. maybe we‘ll be able to ask him some of those ‘meaning of life’ questions after all. like why your favourite record always comes on just as you’re parking the car. or why the person who snores always falls asleep first.
Ian Ridley is The Independent On Sunday is
football correspondent and author of the
unauthorised biography Cantona: The Red And The Black. publislted by Vista at £4.99. Le Bonheur is screened at the French Film Festival on Sat 23 Nov at the Glasgow Film Theatre and on Sun 24 Nov at the Fihnhouse, Edinburgh. then opens at the OFT and Cameo, Edinburgh. on Fri 6 Dec. Cantona 0n Cantona is published by Andre [)eutsch at U4. 99.
ERIC CANTONA FEATURE
French Film Festival
Now celebrating its fifth year. Scotland’s annual feast of French fancies boasts a packed line-up of premieres featuring star names and exciting newcomers — a programme that many international festivals should rightly be envious of. Details of screenings and short synopses of all movies can be found in the Film Listings and Index. Here, though, are a few highlights to savour.
Le Bonheur Eric Cantona has a cameo role in Etienne Chatiliez’s enlivening comedy, but it’s Michel Serrault (Nelly Er M. Arnaud) who steals the film as a harrassed. married businessman who avoids the problems of his current existence by beginning a bigamous life with another family in the countryside. la Roue Abel Gance’s epic melodrama is one of France’s greatest silent films. and screened here in a restored version with live musical accompaniment. See separate review onpage 28.
La Machine French cinema’s most recognisable face. Gerard Depardieu. stars in this weird sci-fi thriller as a man who uses a strange device to control the souls of a group of psychiatric patients. Other Depardieu movies in the festival are Maurice Pialat’s L8 Garcu and Jean-Marie Poiré’s follow up to [m Visileurs. les Anges Gardiens.
Agnes Varda Retrospective This focus on the woman whose pioneering work paved the way for the so-called New Wave — and whose later films continue to inﬂuence new generations — gives the festival true critical weight. Varda herself will be in Scotland to discuss this fascinating collection of shorts and features.
Un Héros Tres Discret Best known as director of La Haine. Mathieu Kassovitz here shows off his acting talents in this war-time fable on heroism. which takes Walter Mitty- type spins on reality.
Jour De Féte The original colour version of the much-loved Jacques Tati comedy classic was restored for France‘s Centenary of Cinema celebrations and brings a new burst of life to this gag-packed tale of a rural postman. Des Nouvelles nu Bon [lieu Each year. the festival showcases a hot new talent. so watch out for Didier Le Pecheur. whose bizarre black comedy finds a brother and sister realising they‘re only characters in a novel written by some guy called God. On the way to meet the man himself. they encounter a series of famous literary names.
Gerard Depardieu In La Machine