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Dec. 31--We've lost count of the number of movies whose sources are books, but we do know that more will be coming soon. Here's a sampler of the latest productions.

"The Children of Men" by P.D. James (Vintage, $13.95, 256 pages): James is best known as a mystery novelist (one lengthy series stars Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard). Here, she crosses over into sci-fi with a tale of a future world that runs amok when the human race becomes infertile. There's hope: One woman might be able to save humankind.

The movie stars Clive Owen and Julianne Moore; it opens Friday.

"The Painted Veil" by W. Somerset Maugham (Vintage, $13.95, 256 pages): The convoluted morality tale was published in 1925, so it's doubtful that moviemakers will follow the entire old-fashioned plot.

The story involves marital infidelity, British colonialism, mismatches between social classes, a cholera epidemic in China, and many twists and turns.

The movie stars Naomi Watts and Edward Norton; it opens Friday.

"Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" by Patrick Suskind (Vintage, $13.95, 272 pages): Jean-Baptiste lives in 18th-century Paris and is blessed (or cursed?) with an amazing sense of smell. He becomes a perfumer, but his twisted desire to create the "ultimate" scent puts him on a violent path.

The movie stars Ben Whishaw and Francesc Albiol; it opens Friday.

"What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal" by Zöe Heller (Picador, $14, 272 pages): The drama centers around a female pottery teacher who has an affair with one of her high school students, and the tragic consequences that follow.

The movie, which uses just the second half of the book title, stars Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Tom Georgeson; it opens Jan. 12.

"Little Children" by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin's, $13.95, 368 pages): A group of privileged yet very quirky suburban neighbors obsesses about the present and future, while trying to stay linked to their pasts. Though most of them have kids, the "children" in the title are really this group of misbehaving adults.

The movie stars Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly; at press time, there was no definite release date yet for Sacramento.

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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