When German director Wim Wenders revealed his latest inspiration — Tokyo's public toilets — newspapers in his country "treated it like a joke," but now the film "Perfect Days" has been nominated for an Oscar. "Toilets are the opposite of culture" in Europe, the arthouse great says in an online video interview. But in Japan, where the film is set, "that is not the case."

The movie's taciturn main character is a cleaner who ensures that a set of toilets in downtown Tokyo, designed by famous architects, are kept spotless. He is meticulous in both his job and his habits, but as the days go by, the complexity of his situation comes to light, prompting reflections on urban solitude, community and growing older.

Wenders says his critics had "realized how much this film is not about toilets."