‘Control Z’: A high school sleuth sets out to find a vicious hacker

‘Control Z’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 June 2020

‘Control Z’: A high school sleuth sets out to find a vicious hacker

CHENNAI: Hacking — whether into bank accounts, mobile phones, or email accounts — is an unfortunate reality of the modern age. The new Mexican eight-part series “Control Z”, available on Netflix, focuses on those who find themselves victims of hackers and who have their deepest secrets and weaknesses exposed as a result.

The subject has been dealt with before in films, but “Control Z,” created by Carlos Quintanilla, Adriana Pelusi and Miguel Garcia Moreno, gives its plot a Sherlockian feel, taking the audience inside a high school populated with affluent students sporting designer clothes and driving luxury cars. The environment is fraught with its own problems, which range from defiant and disrespectful youth to sexual misconduct. Not even the head of the institution is above scandal, and he yields to temptation — a misdemeanor that is soon out in the open.

“Control Z,” created by Carlos Quintanilla, Adriana Pelusi and Miguel Garcia Moreno, gives its plot a Sherlockian feel. (Supplied)

The hacker disseminates his juicy gossip — often true — among the students, taking advantage of a weak school wi-fi system to upload his messages through the account @allyoursecrets. Sofia (played by Ana Valeria Becerril), is a social outcast at her school, considered a freak because of her troubled past, having lost her father and spent time in a mental health facility. She has no friends until Javier (played by Michael Ronda), son of one of Mexico's biggest soccer stars, joins the school and befriends her.

Sofia has a knack for solving crimes, and when the hacker’s text messages take on a nastier and more personal tone, she decides to find out who is behind the account. Javier uses his social skills to help Sofia in a campus atmosphere where chaos prevails and relationships between students go haywire. Couples break up, and new personal ties are tested. But soon, Sofia too falls victim to the hacker. 

Three things that work in favor of “Control Z” are its developed characters, compelling performances and suspense. (Supplied)

Three things that work in favor of “Control Z” are its developed characters, compelling performances (Becerril and Ronda in particular) and suspense. The creators withhold the identity of the culprit until the very end.

The hacker’s motive, however, is a weak point to the series. Although the setting is a high school, there is very little classroom activity. Instead, rowdiness and sexual flings seem to dominate. Is this the norm in Mexican schools? If not, a bit of subtlety and authenticity could have lifted “Control Z” higher. But I suspect that in the name of artistic liberty, the creators opted for a dramatic portrayal of a school “detective” and her efforts to unravel a mystery. 

Stay fresh during summer with 5 Arabian-inspired beauty brands

Updated 16 July 2020

Stay fresh during summer with 5 Arabian-inspired beauty brands

  • The Middle East has long been revered for its age-old beauty rituals, and here are 5 brands that incorporate the region’s creativity and innovation into their products

DUBAI: It is fairly common knowledge that some of the best beauty secrets have been passed on through generations and never more so than in the Middle East.

From the region’s love affair with fragrance to beauty practices such as the wearing of eyeliner, that originated with Queen Cleopatra, the Middle East has long been a pioneer when it comes to beauty rituals.

Soraya Jouzy, owner and founder of Pearl Tree, a leading distributor of natural, lifestyle, and wellness beauty brands in the Middle East and the British Indian Ocean Territory, said: “I am originally from Lebanon and I grew up watching woman in my family use raw ingredients from the land, including olive oil, rose water, argan oil, jasmine, and dead sea salts, in their beauty rituals.”

During the hot summer months, it is important to take extra care to stick to health and wellness routines to combat the effects of heat.

Here are five brands that have incorporated influences from the region into their products, adding a touch of past lore into contemporary beauty rituals.

Shiffa Beauty Care

“Middle East beauty means taking good care of your skin, making sure it’s clear, glowing, and strong,” said Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of homegrown line Shiffa Beauty.

“My grandmother aged so beautifully, in part because they understood that respecting your skin, and not overdoing it with harsh chemicals, was key.”

Hamdan pointed out that it was important that suppliers of skincare products understood skin, how it formed and reacted, and what it needed.

“Some products give you quick results, but in the long term can be detrimental to your skin. That is not what Shiffa is about. I use ingredients that will make your skin look its best now, and in five years’ time.”

For the summer months, Hamdan said it was vital to keep skin pores clean. “Shiffa tri-acid peel, used twice a week, helps gently take away dead skin cells that make your skin look dull, and help lighten pigmentation (pigmentation tends to increase in skin during the summer months),” she added.

“I have used a combination of three fruit acids, each with its own function in the skin, and a calming blend of essential oils and marine extracts. I liken my products to food for your skin.”

There was also balancing facial toner, containing bio Sulphur, and Melissa hydrosol which acts as an oil blotter for skin.

“During the hotter months, your skin tends to produce more sebum (oil) and this toner gently helps reverse the overactivity of the oil glands,” said Hamdan. She noted that to tackle the summer sun, “sunscreen, unperfumed and broad spectrum is a first, and then a large hat to protect your face and neck.”

Montroi’s Arabian-inspired Perfumes

Homegrown Dubai-based brand Montroi, specializes in products that enhance a “nomadic lifestyle.”

Montroi’s products are made using the finest materials, most sourced locally in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The brand’s perfumes offer a journey throughout the Middle East and South East Asia, incorporating pure ingredients from across the region.

“We work with more than 20 workshops and artisans across the modern Silk Route,” said co-founder Enrique Hormigo. “In the preparation of our fragrances we source frankincense from Salalah in the south of Oman, rose water from Jebel Akhdar, and oud from the Arabian Peninsula, for example.

“It’s very much a research journey of going back to the essentials and discovering craftsmanship that has been kept alive in those places for many generations.”

Sodashi’s Arabian Oud Spray

For thousands of years, oud has been used in the Middle East and Asia in the form of body oils, wooden incense chips, and fragrance. It is perhaps the best-known scent synonymous with hospitality in the region, particularly the Gulf.

Known in English as agarwood, oud comes from the bark of trees that can only be found in parts of South East Asia.

Now, international brands such as Sodashi, are incorporating its delicious scent and benefits into their products.

Perfect for the summer, Sodashi’s Arabian oud spray offers a distinct blend of damask rose, oud, frankincense, and sandalwood in a 24-carat-gold-printed biophotonic glass.

The mist, which can be left in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness, plumps and tones the skin and is perfect for a quick pick up after running around in the hot outdoors. Available from Dubai-based Pearl Tree at www.pearltree.ae.


Morocco is well-known for its beauty rituals, such as traditional hammams and the use of argan oil.

Leading beauty brand MarocMaroc infuses its products with Moroccan beauty traditions. In particular, its Majestic Rose range is ideal for the summer months, incorporating the rose flower, a symbol of Morocco, and evoking smoothness to the skin.

“Women of this region love natural ingredients,” said Jouzy, whose Pearl Tree stocks MarocMaroc. “There’s been a notable rise in the incorporation of natural ingredients, such as rose water and argan oil, in beauty brands over the last two years.

“In a time when people are still not as confident to return to clinics, we are seeing a rise in the use of natural products, such as MarocMaroc, in skincare rituals,” she added.

Two Rivers

Dubai-based entrepreneur Yosor Al-Suhaili recently launched Two Rivers, a natural organic skincare and beauty brand incorporating ancient skincare rituals from her native Iraq and around the Middle East.

“When my mother was 13, her grandmother in Iraq sat her down and told her that from this day on her baths would not only be about washing her hair and body but would also involve scrubbing her face and body with the granules of a small white stone and scrubbing her feet with a pumice stone,” she told Arab News.

“My mother took her grandmother’s advice to heart two to three times a week until this very day. Although I never grew up in Iraq, I too sat down at 13 with the same exact advice which I too took to heart.

“I realized that the constant use of these ancient products and rituals had a greater impact on my skin than any other modern-day product I used.”

Friends and family members asked Al-Suhaili to share the secret to her glowing skin and eventually she decided to launch her own product line.

All Two Rivers’ products incorporate regionally sourced natural ingredients. The brand’s go-to market product, white stone, used to scrub away skin impurities, is not readily known outside of Iraq and Iran.

“I wanted to share these natural time-proven products, that have been in my family for five generations, with the world,” added Al-Suhaili.

They are available on Instagram @tworiversbrand