Director Paul Thomas Anderson is releasing his latest movie, The Master, on Friday. The film, which follows a just-returned World War II naval vet (Joaquin Phoenix) as he is swept up into the charisma of a cult-leader-type played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, features a score by Radiohead lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. It’s his second for an Anderson flick — the other being his haunting, much ballyhooed work for There Will Be Blood — and it’s his third in three years, following up scores he composed for 2010’s Norwegian Wood and last year’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Much like his previous works, the music is haunting, full of muted woodwinds and dreamy-sounding strings. His orchestrations occasionally resemble a somewhat more avant-garde, freeform take on the sinewy impressionistic tone poems composer Claude Debussy was creating in the late 1800s or maybe just some atonal early 20th Century classical music, but with the added ingredient of dialog bits about shaving testicles (“Able-Bodied Seaman”). It also includes some sweet interruptions by Ella Fitzgerald (“Get Thee Behind Me Satan”) and Helen Forrest (“Changing Partners”). Those 1940s hits actually somehow make Greenwood’s score seem all the more genuine, as they fit right in with his jazzy discord. You can judge for yourself, though, by streaming the score in full here.