Skip to main content
tabatha southey

Perhaps, as there seems to be no end to it in sight, it's time to consider Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's body of film work. Mr. Ford demonstrated promising versatility in the video released on YouTube this week – as well as the willingness to take the kind of risks that have already made him famous internationally.

The film's set in a suburban restaurant called Steak Queen, and following as closely as this effort does on the heels of his much-talked-about November release, bleeped but subtitled on network news as I Need Ten [Expletive] Minutes, some might have expected Mr. Ford to play it safe.

Investors could easily have been found for a sequel to Minutes in which Mr. Ford did little more than parrot some of the catchphrases that made that stylistically raw, brutal work a must-see for so many people.

In all likelihood there's a built-in audience for Mr. Ford slapping his belly and screaming out a profanity-filled rant in which he details how many minutes he needs to confirm that the person he wants to kill is dead in I Need Ten [Expletive] Minutes and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

A more gentle, sexy I Need Ten [Expletive] Minutes: Havana Nights could offer already intrigued viewers insights into why Rob and his brothers are not "liars, thieves, birds," as he screamed in his earlier hit video. Even an animated feature, perhaps directed by Ralph Bakshi, in which the Ford brothers are birds, would have been a reasonably predictable next step in Mr. Ford's film career compared with what he gave us in Steak Queen.

Because Steak Queen appears to be an attempt at a blaxploitation film. Obviously reviving the controversial genre (blaxploitation films were generally action-packed, urban or set in the Deep South and cast with mainly black actors) presents a number of challenges to a white mayor of a major Canadian city. These are challenges Mr. Ford attacks head-on in Steak Queen.

Attempting a Jamaican patois and using a string of almost unintelligible profanity and slang, Mr. Ford appears to be under the influence of something. Later, he said that he had been drinking – this despite his numerous assurances that although he doesn't have a drinking problem, he has stopped drinking anyway. As one does.

Some of Mr. Ford's dialogue in the film is devoted to angrily calling Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair an offensive term – one word, not Jamaican, that my iPhone insists on correcting to "cocksure."

While Mr. Ford has said that Monday night's incident was "unfortunate," Steak Queen may well be a breakthrough performance for him. Stepping away from his large screaming white man character was a bold move (if those performances and Mr. Ford's gospel-singing-in-church video didn't get the attention of the Coen brothers, nothing will), but may attract new directors.

Steak Queen is clearly influenced by Quentin Tarantino; it's something of an homage to the homager.

And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Peter Jackson is now adapting the famous 480-page Information To Obtain Document that pertains to Mr. Ford and his one-time, part-time driver Sandro Lisi into 10 hours of film with New Zealand countryside doubling for Toronto.

(There's a lot in there. There's no need to pad it out by adding extra elves, Mr. Jackson.)

I understand Francis Ford Coppola passed – scheduling – on Ford Screaming at a Subway (working title), which Mr. Ford hopes will be a showcase for his Swedish accent, but actually involves him yelling "Bork, bork, bork" while throwing sandwiches at customers, but word is Darren Aronofsky has been tapped for Ford Half-Naked at a Denny's (2014), having finally found an actor as overwrought as his films.

I'd like to see Mr. Ford star in a spin-off of The Fast and the Furious franchise simply called Furious, in which Mr. Ford can't get his car to start. And it'd be a shame if Toronto's diversity didn't produce a Ford musical in Hindi and a good samurai film. Spike Jonze must be told that Ford seems to be deeply and improbably in love with a subway.

Another video released this week appears to show Rob Ford meeting Sandro Lisi in that same Steak Queen that same night. It's a bizarre production, part Warhol's Eat, part Cloverfield and, of course, part Groundhog Day. I predict that it will get a lot attention.

Interact with The Globe